Off the court, Caris LeVert is the quiet man, soft spoken and seemingly carefree. On court, it’s a different matter. There is a chip on his shoulder, a desire to make it work ... and as Ethan Spears of the Post notes Sunday, a sense that he’s been overlooked.
LeVert’s two personalities are on display here. He is soft-spoken off the court, but not without the insecurities that come with being overlooked. LeVert is quiet, not peaceful; confident, not cocky, the type of competitor who makes an impression.
Indeed, that off-court personality is a big reason he can be overlooked. He is not cocky like D’Angelo Russell or Spencer Dinwiddie, not sage like DeMarre Carroll. He is careful in his comments.
On the court it is different. Increasingly last year, he grew into his role as the spark off the bench, playing three positions and well. “A lot of people who have never seen me play really don’t know that [side],” he has said.
The Nets would like to see more of “that side,” more consistency as well. In talking with his teammates at Michigan, Sears heard how he can spark things when needed, push buttons. That included taking NBA2K games from the living room of their college apartment to the gym, Sears notes.
“They’re talking smack, next thing you know, it’s like, ‘Well, I’d whoop your ass on the real court,’ ” Spike Albrecht, LeVert’s Michigan roommate for three years, told Sears. “And next thing you know, it’s like, ‘We’ll go play right now.’ It’s like 11 o’clock at night and we’re driving to the gym.”
That fire has been evident this summer as well. Kenny Atkinson described a pick-up game that took place last week.
In the game, LeVert got going. Someone was talking trash, Atkinson told Sears, and that’s exactly how to push LeVert’s buttons. He picked up a steal, he threw down a dunk, got another stop, then added an assist for good measure.
“He just kind of took over the last five points of the game,” Atkinson said.
LeVert remembers disses, too, like how no one thought he’d be able to handle the heavy pace of the NBA after three foot surgeries.
“I think that a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, he only — he got hurt in the college season, where they only played 40 games. How is he gonna play 82 games in the NBA season?’” LeVert recalled. The Nets had an advantage. Their foot and ankle guy, Dr. Martin O’Malley, believed his foot woes were behind him. O’Malley would have known. He performed the third surgery.
This season could be critical for LeVert’s development with the Nets. Will he be given more opportunities to run the team, more opportunities to go 1-on-1, his forte? There were times when he looked like he was going to break out —and indeed his final numbers were solid— but as often happens with young players, he wasn’t as consistent as his coaches would like.
But if the Nets are going to challenge for a playoff spot, get beyond the conventional wisdom, he’s got to be in the lead, got to show the fire.
- Caris LeVert still trying to prove he has earned this dream - Ethan Sears - New York Post