At the Brooklyn Nets’ preseason opener earlier this week, Kenny Atkinson raved about Caris LeVert for exuding ‘maturity beyond his years.’
Prior to the rematch against the New York Knicks on Sunday, October 8, the coach extended his praise for LeVert in a couple of different ways.
Competitiveness and strength. Physical strength.
“One thing I love about Caris that hasn’t changed from day one is he plays so hard, he’s so competitive – he’s one of those guys who never takes a break,” Atkinson said, talking about his young blue-chipper. “He has his mental breakdowns, but he’s a competitor, a consistent competitor.”
When asked about what improvements LeVert has made since the end of his rookie campaign, Atkinson focused on his newly developed muscle. It was noticed by writers at Nets Media Day a couple of weeks ago.
“I think he’s gotten stronger,” said Atkinson. “He balances. I felt like last year he was on the floor a lot. He was Bambi out there. He’s running many miles an hour, he gets hit, he falls down – it’s just the normal physical maturation of a young player.”
For LeVert, who, along with Allen Crabbe, will make his 2017-18 preseason debut against the Knicks Sunday, Atkinson also said the sophomore swingman needs to improve on his jump shot, which he was known for at the University of Michigan.
“I think his catch-and-shoot game; he needs to improve that,” said Atkinson. “I think he’s done that; he’s doing that this year. But one thing I love about Caris that hasn’t changed this year is he plays so hard, he’s so competitive, he never takes a play off. He’s one of those guys who never takes a break. He has his mental breakdowns, but he’s a great, great competitor. Consistent competitor.”
Neither LeVert nor Allen Crabbe will start Sunday, but expect him to get some meaningful minutes. After all, there’s only one preseason game left after this one.