Caris LeVert: A Kevin Durant fill-in, or a long term piece to a contending Nets team?

Have you heard of the song Love Train by The O’Jays? Sure you have. It is used in commercials all the time to sell piss beer. It’s also at the beginning of that movie that you can’t think of right now but it’s on the tip of your tongue. The chorus of the song goes a little something like this: *People all over world/ join hands/ start a love train, love train* This will be important later.

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If you were to ask any Nets fan who they thought was the most important player for improving the Brooklyn Nets this upcoming season, there are some pretty obvious choices. Especially after the offseason they just had, there are definitely some names that stick out (the names rhyme with Bryie Kirving and Seven Murant). Here’s one that doesn’t. 

Caris LeVert. LeVert was drafted 20th overall in 2016 by the Indiana Pacers, who traded his rights to the Nets for Thaddeus Young. More relevantly, LeVert is cousins with Eddie LeVert, the lead singer of The O’Jays (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2005) who sang the infamous disco song Love Train. Caris has declined to comment on whether or not he likes The O’Jays more than Migos. 

LeVert will be 25 during the 2019-2020 season, and he is coming off the best season of his career. In the first 12 games of the 2018-2019 season, LeVert averaged 20.3 PPG, 4 APG, and 4.4 RPG before dislocating his foot and missing the next three months of the season. However, by the time LeVert returned in February, D’Angelo Russell had established himself as the Nets leading scorer. LeVert finished the season with a lesser role in the rotation, ending up averaging 13.7 PPG, 3.9 APG, and 3.8 RPG. Even though LeVert did not play as well when he came back from injury, he was still able to have career highs in points and rebounds per game. 

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LeVert is essential to the Nets success, who were 42-40 and 6th in the Eastern Conference last season. The Nets signed Kyrie Irving to replace the production of D’Angelo Russell, who they traded to the Warriors (yes those Warriors) in the sign and trade to get Kevin Durant. Irving is a huge acquisition, but is he that much of an upgrade over Russell where the Nets will win a substantial more amount of games because of him? I’m not sure. If the Nets want to place higher in the Eastern Conference next season, LeVert needs to help Irving with the scoring load, especially with Kevin Durant not expected to play much. 

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LeVert played SF for the Nets last season, but with Kevin Durant joining with the team, his long term outlook at that position is fuzzied. Whenever Durant returns, LeVert will probably have to move to SG to get them both into the starting lineup. However, no one has any clue when Durant is returning, so for now it is looking like LeVert will play SF during the 2019-2020 season. The Nets have Joe Harris and Garrett Temple who can play SG and SF who will receive minutes alongside LeVert. 

While it seems obvious to say that Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, or even other newcomer Taurean Prince are the most important players to the Nets for improving on last year’s record, Caris LeVert building on last season and becoming their #2 scoring option behind Irving would be a huge boost to the stability and depth of the team. With KD out and Kyrie without any stars behind him, Caris LeVert is really important to the short and long term success of the Brooklyn Nets. During the 2019-2020 season, it will become more clear if LeVert is merely a Kevin Durant fill-in, or a long term piece to a contending Nets team. 

Image Source: AP Images

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