Brooklyn Nets Media Week: Caris LeVert Eyes the Right Fit

Caris LeVert took a star turn on the NBA Campus in Orlando last summer, elevating his game to the level teammates and coaches had always predicated was coming. It capped off a season-ending surge that began a month before the season was suspended in March.

In his final 22 games dating back to Feb. 1, LeVert averaged 24.3 points, 5.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 45.6 percent overall and 37.8 percent from 3-point range in 33.1 minutes per game.

It wasn’t the first sign of a star ready to break out. With the Brooklyn Nets beginning workouts this week in anticipation of the 2020-21 season, LeVert heads toward his fifth NBA season aiming to carry it all forward.

“I just try to build off it,” said LeVert. “I try to look forward, not try to go back. I feel like every single year I’ve gotten better and I want to continue with that trend. I think the bubble was a great step for not only myself but for all the guys who went down there. Just with building confidence against playoff-caliber teams. I think it was huge for all of us. Just using that as a stepping stone and just getting to the next level, for everybody. I think that’s the goal for us.”

LeVert’s big finish propelled him to career-high seasonal numbers of 18.7 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game, plus 36.4 percent shooting from 3-point range, a promising jump from his 31.2 percent rate of the season before.

But as the Nets enter the new season, things will be different. LeVert’s usage rate over those final 22 games was 30.7, the kind of number that would be among the top 15 in the league if sustained over a full season. It came without Kyrie Irving in the lineup, and without Spencer Dinwiddie as well when the Nets went to Orlando. And also, without Kevin Durant.

With Durant and Irving on the way back, LeVert is ready to adjust.

“We’ve talked countless times just about me being myself, me being aggressive, picking my spots,” said LeVert. “There will be a lot of opportunities for myself along with other guys to be aggressive with so much attention on Kevin and Ky. So, it’s just picking our spots, being aggressive and just trusting the work we’ve put in throughout the summer.”

“I think everybody’s on the same page as far as role is concerned,” added LeVert. “Just do what I do best. Be someone very versatile who can do a lot of things really well. Just depending on who I’m out there on the court with, whether it be playing off the ball or playing on the ball. Just being ready for every situation. I think that’s what I’ve kind of been preparing myself for with this long offseason we’ve had.”

Last season, LeVert was fourth in the NBA in isolation possessions per game, but sharing the floor with Irving and Durant means playing off that pair. LeVert said he’s been working on catch-and shoot situations, something he hasn’t done much the last few seasons. Last year, just 10.8 percent of LeVert’s shots came on catch-and-shoot opportunities, and throughout his four years those have been almost exclusively 3-pointers.

But in his second pro season in 2017-18, 22.9 percent of LeVert’s field goal attempts were of the catch-and-shoot variety, and he shot 36.9 percent on 149 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.

“The work I’ve been putting in, I’ve kind of just been preparing myself for every situation,” said LeVert. “I’ve been doing a lot of off-the-ball shooting, catch-and-shoot shots. And preparing myself to play on the ball as well. Still continuing my strength, my lower body strength and things like that. Making sure I’m all the way healthy going into the season. I think for me, it’s just maximizing the time that I’ve had from when the season shut down in March up until now, it’s been a long time. So, I don’t even think of it as broken up within the bubble because I was consistently putting work in the whole time. So, it will be fun with the season coming up, I feel like everyone’s kind of been locked in doing the same thing.”