Projecting Caris LeVert’s Fit as a Sixth Man

caris levert

The constant debate between Brooklyn Nets fans has been whether the Nets should be starting Spencer Dinwiddie or Caris LeVert at the shooting guard position next to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

When Irving elected to have surgery on his shoulder injury that would sideline him for the rest of the 2019-20 season, LeVert was re-inserted into the starting lineup and went on to average 24.3 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game in 22 games. LeVert performed so well down in Orlando that he even got named to the All-Bubble Second Team!

Let’s make one thing clear. Caris LeVert can be a starter in the NBA and can even be considered as an All-Star Game candidate if he can put together a healthy season while performing at the level he’s shown he’s capable of performing at. 

Utilizing Caris LeVert Properly

However, given the current structure of this team, LeVert’s skill set might be better utilized with him coming off the bench and serving as the team’s sixth-man. Steve Nash suggested that LeVert can serve as a Manu Ginobili type, and for those that know the game of basketball, being compared to Manu Ginobili is never a bad thing.

Coming off the bench will allow LeVert to retain much of his effectiveness when he’s utilized at a high rate. Given the iso-heavy nature of the Michigan product’s game, leading a bench unit that’s not going to contain the scoring threats of Irving and Durant will be much more beneficial for LeVert’s talent, as LeVert has the ability to dictate the pace of play and get his shots up from anywhere in the mid-range.

LeVert is most effective when he can penetrate into the paint, as he converted over 50 percent of his shots when he got looks within 10 feet of the basket. In order for LeVert to effectively penetrate the paint and get good looks, he needs at least three dribbles.

Caris LeVert ON the Ball

Whenever he had the ball in his hands, he most frequently dribbled the ball at least seven times before shooting, and when he did that, he converted nearly 40 percent of those looks. If he stayed between 3-6 dribbles, however, he was nearly 10 percent better at converting those shots, and the dropoff between his frequency of shooting after taking 3-6 dribbles and 7+ dribbles is only 7.4 percent. 

The bottom line is that LeVert needs the ball in his hands to be an effective scorer on offense, as he’d more than likely be relegated to a catch-and-shoot player if he was starting next to Durant and Irving. When LeVert gets hot, he’s not a bad three-point shooter, but his strengths are to get his shots up in isolation and penetrate the paint, and coming off the bench will allow him to stick to those strengths and capitalize on them with weaker defenses trying to shut him down.

You have to allow LeVert to use the shot-clock and work off the pick-and-roll and find open spots or cracks in the defense to get his field-goal attempts throughout the game. He keeps defenses honest while allowing the Nets to rest their stars and can attract double-teams for easy drop-offs to Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan inside the paint or finding the open Joe Harris or Landry Shamet behind the arc. 

Caris’ Shooting Ability

Even in stretches where he plays with Kyrie and KD, he has the ability to shoot from anywhere as well as attracting defenders on the drive to open up the entire floor for the two stars to do their damage.

Overall, LeVert is just too smooth with the ball and dangerous on offense to have him just standing behind the three-point line waiting for a pass to shoot. He needs to have the ball in his hands a great amount in order for him to be fully effective, and coming off the bench will allow him to do just that.

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