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Surprise! Caris LeVert moves into high post ... and does well

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Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

On Friday, vs the Magic, the Nets unveiled something new: Caris LeVert, that already versatile star of the Bubble Nets, was working out of the high post. Jacque Vaughn had not put LeVert at the 5 during scrimmages. So was this something Vaughn had hidden from view, hoping to unleash it during the eight seeding games?

“Definitely, purposefully done. Something that Caris has been working and something that we did not show in the scrimmages leading up to those games,” he said “As a team we have worked on the ability for him to get to a sweet spot and be one bounce away from the rim, but also once bounce from getting to a mid-range shot that he’s very comfortable in.”

Although it had limited success in Game 1, it was key to LeVert’s 34-point output —and team win— in Game 2, as Kristian Winfield reports Tuesday. (Of course, there’ll be none of that Tuesday afternoon. LeVert, like Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris, isn’t playing vs Milwaukee.)

Winfield describes how the Nets are using the new wrinkle in LeVert’s game...

Brooklyn drew up a play to get LeVert the ball on the high post where he faced-up Wizards defender Jerome Robinson before taking him to the rack for his first points of the game. Two possessions later, the Nets went right back to LeVert at the same spot, this time guarded by Wizards swingman Troy Brown.

LeVert took Brown baseline, just like he did Robinson, and clapped on the backboard for the easy two.

With the opportunity presenting itself, LeVert did it again the following possession. He worked Robinson baseline then went behind the back, before posting up and hitting a turnaround fade-away shot, plus the foul. He then went back to the post twice in the fourth quarter, shooting over Wizards defenders in a tight game.

LeVert likes the idea.

“It’s definitely something I’ve been working on, and then also with teams starting to double, we’re trying to find easy ways to kind of get the ball in space where they can’t really double as easily,” LeVert said. “That’s an easy spot to catch it in and kind of go to work without using a lot of energy.”

Chris Chiozza thinks it works as well.

“I think that’s going to be effective for us especially when we’re getting good shots and somebody gets hot and we keep the ball moving out of that,” Chiozza said. “I think that’s going to be a good set for us, good game plan throughout the rest of these games.”

It has helped the Nets in a number of areas. LeVert is going to the foul line more, 13 times (making 10) vs. the Wizards, and it helps facilitate the pick-and-roll with Allen who’s taken advantage of things as well.

Vaughn of course will have to have a real surprise in his bag-of-tricks vs. the Bucks, with everyone out. But as Winfield writes, Sean Marks has to be happy with developing something new so late in the season.

Sean Marks has said Vaughn won’t be judged on wins and losses in the Orlando bubble. But one metric by which Vaughn should be evaluated is how he fully maximizes Caris LeVert’s wide-ranging abilities.

Of course, now that the Celtics, who the Nets face Wednesday, and other teams have scouting the Nets, how will adjustments work out. The ball will be in LeVert’s hands, just in a new place on the court.