The loss of Caris LeVert affected the Nets power rankings ... as did some tough losses without their leading scorer. Khadrice Rollins of Sports Illustrated dropped the Nets six spots; John Schuhmann dropped the Nets five places and a couple of others dropped them four.
It shouldn’t surprise, of course. Teams that lose critical players lose altitude in power rankings as well.
Considering how his injury looked on Monday night in Minnesota, the Nets got great news regarding Caris LeVert (only moderate ligament damage in his right ankle) less than 24 hours later, and they still have four capable guards -- D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Shabazz Napier -- to turn to. But the bottom line is that they’ll be without their best player for the foreseeable future and their defense has been dreadful (121 points allowed per 100 possessions) with Dinwiddie and Russell on the floor together, a look they’ve used more since LeVert’s injury. The absence of of Jarrett Allen (who returned over the weekend) was also felt as the Nets allowed Miami to score a season-high 70 points in the paint on Wednesday. They’ve lost four of their last five games, with the league’s second worst defense over that stretch.
The Nets have lost four of their past five games, but they’ve been against fairly strong competition that included four incumbent playoff teams and a Clippers squad that would be firmly a playoff team out West if the playoffs started today. The Nets have also had to adjust to the loss of team leader Caris LeVert to an ugly foot injury, with D’Angelo Russell stepping up to lead the team with 22.3 PPG and 6.8 APG during the past four contests.
Caris LeVert going down was a gut-punch to the entire NBA, not just the Nets. Brooklyn is going to have a difficult time replacing his scoring, as a lot of the responsibility will fall on D’Angelo Russell and Joe Harris. If those two can keep shooting from beyond the arc the way they have been to start the season, the Nets could have a chance to stay within shouting distance of a postseason spot before LeVert’s eventual return to mount a late-season playoff push.
Thankfully, Caris LeVert’s gruesome injury turned out to be a best-case diagnosis. Somehow, he avoided breaking every major bone in his lower leg. Imagine being able to say, “it was just an ankle dislocation and he won’t require surgery.” It almost seems like a miracle that LeVert dislocated his ankle against Minnesota. We thought we had a real Gordon Hayward situation coming back to haunt us once again. Instead, LeVert will return at some point this season and it’ll be an awesome moment when he does.
Sincerely congratulating someone on a dislocated ankle is wild.
Allen Crabbe is billed as a shooter; that’s where virtually all of his value comes from. But Crabbe has been awful at his primary skill so far this season. He’s shooting a career-low 28.9 percent from three, and he has the lowest true shooting percentage among NBA players averaging 18 or more minutes per game. That’s just one more reason why Caris LeVert’s injury is absolutely crushing for the Nets.
Caris LeVert’s gruesome injury looked as bad as Gordon Hayward’s season-ender last year (no, you won’t find a link to the video here), but the Nets got some good news when tests revealed their breakout star hadn’t broken bones or severely damaged ligaments, portending a return at some point this season.
Brooklyn lost its first contest without LeVert on Wednesday, and third straight overall, falling to the Heat by 13.
If ever there were a time for D’Angelo Russell to take his play up a notch as a lead guard, it’s now.
After 17 games, this is a top-10 offense and it is often beautiful to watch the Nets operate on that end of the floor. Defense has been a bit of a struggle, though, and staying afloat without Caris LeVert for a while could be a challenge.