It’s been rumored, but now there’s confirmation. The Nets see Caris LeVert not just as a wing, but a point guard —a 6’7” point guard at that. But it will take a while, says Kenny Atkinson.
“My gut feeling is, to make it easier on him, we’ll start with the wing position and getting that down and feeling as the season goes,” Atkinson said when asked how he’ll use LeVert. “if he could move down a position and play some 1 (point guard) down the line, I think that could be a possible evolution of his game, but right now he’s got to get the wing position down first.”
That part shouldn’t come as a surprise because the Nets have demonstrated that they’ll proceed with caution all season long. Given their situation, that appears to be the wise move.
“Caris has just kind of started practicing with us. I know him from the draft, I know what he did at Michigan, we’re trying to get a feel of where he fits with the team,” Atkinson said after Monday’s practice. “He’s available and he just needs more practice time, we had a really good practice today, played some 5-on-5 so I think that’s going to help him and incrementally building up his minutes as the season goes. Again, he’s a little behind the other guys, he’s got to build up.”
LeVert, at 6’7” and 200 pounds, proved himself an ideal swingman as a Wolverine, playing all three positions, including the point when needed. He described himself just before the draft as a “point/shooting guard” and in the game where he last broke his foot, he had 10 assists to go along with 22 points and five rebounds.
Two weeks ago, LeVert practiced fully for the first time all-season, which signified a an eventual debut was on the horizon.
The Michigan-alum was cleared to make his much anticipated (no exaggeration) debut Monday night but LeVert remained on the sideline (coach’s decision) in what was a narrow five-point loss to the Washington Wizards. So, he has yet to play in an NBA game.
The Nets 2016 first round selection, who came to Brooklyn at the cost of dealing Thaddeus Young will likely see the court any game now.
As for when specifically, that has yet to be determined. The former All Big-Ten honoree can bring a special kind of versatility to a Brooklyn roster that, quite honestly, needs it.
And based on the Nets track record with rookies,
Not long removed from having three surgeries in a three-year span, the Nets have every right to maintain their calculated and patient approach with LeVert, but given their track record, once he plays, he’ll play.
“We play Isaiah (Whitehead) and we’re not afraid to play young guys,” Atkinson said of the Nets willingness to give their young players big minutes. “They’ll make mistakes and they’ll learn from those mistakes.
“In the long run, they’re a big part of our program. If they merit the minutes, they’re going to get minutes, and we’re not going to pull them out just because they make a mistake or two. There’s also a fine line, there comes a point where you’re like ‘hey, come sit next to me, let’s talk about this,’ but that’s kind of our mentality. With our kind of program, I think that’s the smart way to look at it.”
Meanwhile, the team’s third rookie, Yogi Ferrell, is currently dealing with a right ankle sprain. Ferrell, who’s averaging 5.4 points and 1.7 assists through 10 games in a reserve role, could miss a game or two. He’s questionable vs. the Nuggets on Wednesday.