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For Caris LeVert, size matters

NBA: Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

As Ben Dowsett notes Thursday, tweeners used to be viewed negatively, but today, a big guard with size (and skills) is an asset. Caris LeVert at 6’7” —with a 6’10” wingspan— has that kind of size ... and the Nets are grateful.

As part of a new breed of guards, the kind of guards Kenny Atkinson like, LeVert is seen as potentially special.

Dowsett, writing for Basketball Insiders, breaks down how that size matters on the defense and offense.

First defense..

LeVert moves in smooth, long strides, but with quicker reflexes than offensive players expect. His hands are quick and active, a big part of solid steal numbers at Michigan that have translated instantly to the NBA (his per-minute NBA steals actually exceed his NCAA totals, though on a smaller sample).

LeVert leads the Nets in per-minute deflections, per, and is in the league’s top 25 among guys logging at least 500 minutes on the year.

Then, offense...

Long term, his offensive upside is at least as great. LeVert’s size allows him advantages on this end as well, and they’re supercharged when combined with his advanced eye for the game.

“What I’m really impressed with is his pick-and-roll ability,” Atkinson said. “He can pass the ball.”

LeVert averaged nearly 10 assists per-100-possessions in his senior year at Michigan, and his figures in the NBA so far have been good despite limited usage. The percentage of his passes that result in assists or positive results for his team trails only Jeremy Lin among Nets players, per SportVU data. He uses that height to make passes smaller guys probably aren’t trying.

What are his big impediments? He needs to get stronger and maybe a bit slower, so to speak.

“He tends to rush, like a lot of young players do,” Atkinson tells Dowsett. “I think when the game slows down and he gets more experience, he’s going to be a heck of a player in this league.”

Not bad for the 20th pick.