Caris LeVert’s value for Cavs may be more as a playmaker next season
Caris LeVert didn’t end up exactly lighting it up for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season following his trade acquisition from the Indiana Pacers as part of a deal near the past trade deadline.
LeVert had a decline to 13.6 points per contest with the Cavaliers in 19 regular season appearances, when his three-point shooting was a bit down from with the Pacers. In those games with Cleveland more so in the closing stretch of the year, LeVert hit 31.3 percent from three, which was far from exceptional, being nice here.
In his career, with the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana prior to Cleveland, his three-point shooting clip has been 33.3 percent, and so that’s not typically been a strength, per se, of his game. He can hit catch-and-shoot looks there, though, and LeVert even with some underwhelming scoring splits with the Cavaliers did show his abilities as a driver and pull-up player in the mid-range.
It also needs to be out there that LeVert was a mid-season trade acquisition for the Cavs, and him suffering a foot sprain near when post-All-Star play began didn’t help him establish a rhythm with the team. I don’t discount that, and I’m sure the Cavaliers didn’t.
There were still some encouraging performances from him, on the plus side, and LeVert seemed to be meshing better with other guys as he got more experience with Darius Garland, Lauri Markkanen and Lamar Stevens, among others.
But in relation to next season, while I would think the Cavaliers could look to address backup point guard, and a potential Ricky Rubio return would fit that, later in the season feasibly, and Delon Wright would be sensible, LeVert should be a meaningful playmaking presence. He demonstrated some solid play at times, in that realm, and next season, I could foresee that being his most valuable attribute, even.
LeVert’s value for the Cavs may be more as a playmaker next season, as opposed to being more of a scorer.
To his credit, while there are naturally going to be sequences where he’s going to be a self-starter, and that’s how it is with shot creating guards/wings, LeVert is a capable passer, and he displayed some of that with the Cavs.
In those 19 regular season appearances, despite some shooting/scoring inconsistencies, I thought he did a pretty nice job as a playmaker. Next season, in times with Darius Garland, and more so without him, in tandem with Collin Sexton or Isaac Okoro, I would think LeVert could be a de facto lead passing presence, too, and initiate the Cavaliers offense some.
He had 3.9 assists per outing this season with Cleveland, and for his career, LeVert has had 4.0 assists per contest, to 1.9 turnovers.
Granted, he’s a guy that does need to look for himself as well, and I acknowledge that it’s not certain if he’ll end up panning out, or if he can be a long term player with the team. LeVert is on an expiring deal as of now for next season, and with extending Sexton being reportedly a “top priority” this offseason with Sexton potentially a restricted free agent, it’s tough to project if LeVert sticks.
However, I do still think that with what the 6-foot-6 LeVert provides, next season, it’d be sensible to see if a full offseason can help him be more comfortable with the team. And though we’ll have to see how lineups shake out, I do believe that next season, he could potentially end up being a very valuable playmaking presence for the Cavs, and maybe more so than as a scorer, even.
I get that some of it has been due to his role, and the pick-and-roll volume, for context. But LeVert placing in the 98th, 97th, 65th and 94th percentile in assist rate among wings with Brooklyn, Indiana and Cleveland the past two seasons, per Cleaning The Glass, is impressive.
Time will tell as to whether we’ll see LeVert have notable playmaking reps with the Cavaliers, anyway. I’d imagine he very well could, for what it’s worth, and might be more valuable in that aspect than scoring for extended stretches, theoretically. If things don’t work out better, then maybe he’s a potential trade asset; we’ll see.