Caris LeVert’s ‘confidence’ helping second-year player mature in new role
It’s hardly how they drew it up, and it’s far from ideal, but that doesn’t mean the Nets aren’t loving every minute of Caris LeVert’s metamorphosis.
Because in a perfect world — one in which Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell are perfectly healthy — LeVert probably still would be on the wing, not initiating the offense with the second unit. He’d maybe have a little more time to develop all the skills the Nets are so high on.
But that perfect world doesn’t quite lead to this: A player, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said, who has grown in confidence and ability before his eyes.
In fact, that was Atkinson’s one-word answer when asked what changed in his second-year player.
“Confidence,” he said. “We had big expectations for him coming off of a great summer, knowing who he is, knowing the type of worker he is, the type of guy he is. For me, it’s kind of expected, but I think it’s 100 percent his confidence and he’s obviously got the ball in his hands more with Jeremy out and D’Angelo out, so I think that’s helped him, the role has helped him. I think he just is a more confident player.”
LeVert scored 15 points in the Nets’ 111-104 loss to the Knicks and has scored in double-digits for five straight games, a career high.
And it was only one game ago — a win over the Wizards — when LeVert “kept us in the game,” Atkinson said Wednesday.
“I think we had high expectations for him. We kind of knew off the bat that he was going to be pretty good,” he said. “He’s come a long way.”
LeVert said he actually split time at the wing and playing the point in high school and college, at Michigan, where he played in a two-point guard system.
He is the only Net to appear in every game this season and only the second player since the 1963-64 season to record more than 20 points, more than 10 assists, more than five rebounds and no turnovers off the bench in a game, which he did in Mexico City last week.
“I feel like I’m really comfortable playing both [point guard and shooting guard],” he said Tuesday at practice. “I’m getting more comfortable every game.”