After a euphoric Friday, which ended with a Caris LeVert game-winner to beat the New York Knicks, Jared Dudley told reporters in the Nets locker room that he had taken it upon himself to work closely with the third-year player ... including film study.
So, on Monday, in a media scrum, Dudley expounded on his comments, saying he always offers advice during scrimmages, but the idea to break down film was his. LeVert, of course, was very receptive.
”After the first game we played Detroit, we had a film session,” Dudley said, responding to NetsDaily. “I approached him. It’s a couple clips. It’s something I wanted him to see. A lot of it I saw where Blake (Griffin) was coming over where he was challenging Jarrett Allen at the rim. I was the guy being open that’s most likely if he passes me the ball, it’s a rotation, I’m going to give it up. Just to make them pay. Sometimes if I hit a three, then maybe Blake won’t come over. A lot of the stuff that I do is just spur of the moment when I see clips and try to help people take that further development.
”I think the ability to, that long stride-step is kind of James Harden-esque,” added Dudley on LeVert. “That’s something I didn’t see as much of him doing in the games. I’ve always saw his explosion, his attack. But he’s doing stuff where he basically freezes the defender with his long Euro-stride if you want to call it that. His scoring, we knew that, I thought he would be our leading scorer this year just because of his ability and his aggressiveness. Now he just has to keep it consistent. Three games is three games, and how can you help the team when you can’t score, when you have a bad shooting day, which happens to all of us.”
Dudley also, of course, reiterated some high praise of LeVert, but adds that Brooklyn will need him to continually grow as a playmaker.
“Caris is a scorer, but we also ask him to play point guard,” Dudley added. “For him to take even a bigger step, we’re already throwing so much at him, it’s natural for him to score and be herky-jerky getting these layups. It’s, now these defenders are pulling over, how does he make myself, Joe Harris, Allen Crabbe better? We have to have that. We don’t have a star player. So we have to get contributions from everyone.”
Now the question is whether or not the new LeVert can be sustainable. When asked, Kenny Atkinson flashed a noticeable smile, as if he’d been pondering the same thing over the team’s day off Sunday – a day he probably spent with a ham sandwich, watching film.
“Man, I love it. That’s the question,” Atkinson remarked. “It’s the first three games, but if [he keeps it going], now you’re talking about, not a big jump, but a monumental jump in his production. You’re getting to the elite players in this league or top 20, top 30. It’s three games, so to be confirmed. A lot of that is going to be here [in his head] how he can keep that level.”
As far as what he’s been doing that’s been most impressive, Atkinson pointed out that LeVert has been able to come through for the Nets on both ends of the floor, not just on offense, which everyone has become enamored with.
“He’s played excellent offensively, and then defensively, he’s been good, too. Confidence, I think he’s slowed down his game a little, understanding the pace, when he can go and when he can pull back. He’s made a big physical improvement, too. Even the third game [in four nights], the Indiana game, a lot of our young guys, you could see [fatigue]. With Caris, I did not see that. I saw a fresh, engaged player. Those are the hard ones, I think, for young players, three out of four. I think you saw it with Jarrett Allen, D’Angelo a little bit. But Caris was like fresh as a daisy, which means you’re really starting to become a pro. (We) challenge him to keep doing it,” he said.
“It’s his confidence, but it’s also his teammates’ confidence in him. You see both, which you didn’t see as much [earlier]. He’s playing at a real confident level, but I can see his teammates saying, ‘Here [gesturing as if handing him the ball]. You’re playing well. That’s where NBA players are so smart. They understand who’s playing well, who’s feeling it, and without my saying anything, I think they’ve shifted the burden to him a little more. Credit to him, but also credit to his teammates for recognizing this guy is playing really well. Since we drafted him, he’s been the guy we expected to make a jump. Like we all felt that and were waiting for it. I think the big thing was the consistency. We see it kind of sporadically, and now we kind of get three games in a row. That’s a good sign for the Nets,” added Atkinson.
One of LeVert’s backcourt mates (and there are so many), Spencer Dinwiddie, had a one-on-one conversation with NetsDaily on Monday after practice. He also shared some thoughts on whether or not LeVert could achieve that elusive goal of sustainability.
“In terms of what he’s been doing and how he’s been doing it, of course. Now, the efficiency at which he’s been doing it, no,” offered Dinwiddie. “But what he’s been doing in terms of getting to the line, making plays, reading the defense, slowing down a little bit, getting more under control. Just all that effectiveness, of course.
“I think he’s going to have a great season. He had a great camp, a great summer of work, and he’s going to be a guy to definitely get a high volume of possessions and he’s gonna have a great year for us.”
Dinwiddie also added why the team needs LeVert – along with D’Angelo Russell and himself – to play at a particularly high level for the team to succeed this season.
“Obviously, objectively speaking, you’re going to look at the three most likely to create a shot, whether it’d be scoring or assisting on our team, it’d probably he him, D’Lo and myself,” he said. “As those guys, we have to operate at a high level of just creation, efficiency, all that stuff. All three of us have to play at a high level for us to win. At least two. There’s no really other way that we’re going to win without that. And it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re scoring 30 a night, it just means that we’re getting the pace right, we’re getting the offense rolling, we’re making the right play, we’re getting guys shots. All those things that contribute to us being a good team because we’ll be dictating the pace, the space, all that stuff.”
All that stuff indeed!
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