Caris LeVert played in 21 games this season for the Cavs after being acquired from the Indiana Pacers on February 7.
Caris LeVert played in one game with Darius Garland, Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen last season: the April 15 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In Tournament.
That group of five started the second Play-In game, and that contest was perhaps the most comfortable that LeVert looked in the Wine & Gold.
The Columbus native-turned-Michigan Wolverine was acquired before the deadline from the Pacers for Ricky Rubio (who has since re-signed with the Cavs) and a lottery-protected 2022 first round pick (which stayed with Cleveland and turned into Ochai Agbaji).
In his first game in Wine & Gold, LeVert scored 11 points in 28 minutes off the bench in a home win against San Antonio.
In his second game, the then-newest Cavalier really made his presence felt. Playing against the team that just traded him, LeVert helped lead a Cavs comeback, coming back from 18 points down over the last 15 or so minutes.
LeVert helped seal the win with three baskets in the final minutes, to go along with a 22-point outing on 10-19 shooting in a team-high 36 minutes.
Feat. Highlight: Caris Comes Up Clutch
That game (and the two that followed it going into the All-Star Break) was about as close to a full squad that LeVert would get to play with for some time.
At a practice coming out of the break, LeVert sprained his foot and missed about a month, the first nine games of the second half.
When he returned to the floor, Jarrett Allen was out with a fractured finger. Evan Mobley missed sometime late with a sprained ankle; Dean Wade tore his meniscus; Darius Garland missed a few games after All-Star Weekend, as well.
The former Net started to find his footing a bit toward the end of the season, getting involved more in the offense and playing more minutes on a nightly basis while sliding into the starting rotation.
He finished with a cool 32 points on an efficient 11-19 shooting in a home loss to the Mavericks in late March. In the five games in April, LeVert played over 30 minutes and scored in double figures in four of them (the season finale was the only outlier). He shot over 47 percent from the floor in the season’s last five games.
The Cavs loss in the seven-eight Play-In game meant the team would come home and host the Atlanta Hawks for a chance to go to the playoffs.
Jarrett Allen made his return to the lineup in front of a home crowd that was buzzing, even before the opening tip, in the win-or-go-home game.
Starting with usual other four of Garland, Markkanen, Mobley, and Allen, LeVert had a nice all-around game. He scored 16 points, knocked down four triples, grabbed three boards, and dished out five assists in 40 minutes.
Was the chemistry and successful product on the court in the Hawks game found between LeVert and the other starters? The play between the five of them had to be the vision of the Cavs brass when acquiring LeVert a few months earlier.
LeVert noted that in his end-of-season media availability, saying “I think the timing of the injuries messed with the chemistry a little bit. It was a lot of things combined, but all-in-all I think the experience will help us going forward.”
The guard seems to have the inside track on starting at the two when the season comes along. We just noted that Isaac Okoro is due for his year three leap. However, LeVert could be the Cavalier that has the most to prove this season.
When he got comfortable and the squad around him was playing well and healthy, the Cavs looked dangerous.
All we got was a glimpse of it, and it was in the season’s last game.
Could a full offseason with teammates and healthy LeVert be the Cavs missing piece for getting back to the playoffs?
We don’t have long to wait now, as the regular season is quickly approaching.