His teammates at Michigan didn’t call Caris LeVert “Baby Durant” for nothing. When healthy, LeVert could dominate with his shooting, driving, defense, etc. ... just like Kevin, only a few inches shorter.
There was something else. Like KD —who eventually became a good friend— LeVert had the desire to be great and the confidence to get there. If only his body would let him. Now, after being the best player in the Nets visit to the playoffs, LeVert tells Michael Lee of The Athletic he’s ready.
“I’ve always felt like I was that guy,” LeVert told Lee. “I’m at the point where now I feel I can control how good I can be. I’m going to push myself every single day and see where that ceiling is. I don’t know where it is. I don’t like to put limits on myself.”
And as Lee notes, LeVert wants the spotlight and is looking forward to the Nets nationally televised games, of which there are 20 this season.
“I love big games. I love playing on TV, playing in big environments. I thrive in those environments,” LeVert said. “I felt like last year we were a good team but people didn’t really see it. Because we weren’t really on TV that much and people didn’t really watch the Nets like that. This year, with obviously KD, Kyrie and DeAndre [Jordan], I feel like naturally, we’ll get more attention as a team. I’m super competitive, so I love being my best when my best is needed.”
The Nets offense if made for LeVert with his many skills. Now, he’ll have even more freedom with KD out. KD, by the way, has promised to share some “gems” with LeVert, Lee writes. LeVert admits that he’s been studying his new teammates for years.
“Those two, in particular, are guys that I’ve watched a lot and have watched for years, and tried to mimic their games a little bit,” LeVert said of Durant and Irving. “The way that they approach the game, the way that they go about things on the court, to hear praise from those guys is huge for a guy who is still getting better and developing every day.”
Along with Irving, LeVert will form the Nets backcourt, backed up by Spencer Dinwiddie and next to swingman Joe Harris. It’s an area of strength and depth for the Nets. They also have fast-developing sophomores in Dzanan Musa and Theo Pinson.
LeVert is not shy about his desire to be an All-Star. Along with team success, it’s a goal.
“That’s definitely something that I want to be. But I feel that’s just one of the things. That’s not the end all, be all. I feel like I want to do a lot more with the game. I don’t like to put limits on it. That’s a milestone but it’s not all I want to do.”
LeVert also credits the Net player who did get an All-Star berth last season, D’Angelo Russell, now with the Warriors.
“D’Angelo deserved that, absolutely. Without him, we probably don’t make the playoffs. We won’t be a sixth seed, we may not get the guys that we got [in free agency],” LeVert said. “So, he’s a huge part of this organization, who we are today.”
The Nets have LeVert for the next four years, this year at $2.6 million, then the next three at $52.6 million. Although Durant and Irving signed bigger four-year deals, both have a player option in the fourth year.
Bottom line: LeVert is the Nets future.
- Caris LeVert is just beginning his ascent: ‘I feel I can control how good I can be’ - Michael Lee - The Athletic NBA