Cavaliers need Caris LeVert to set the tone for their bench

Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

When the Cleveland Cavaliers re-signed Caris LeVert, nobody should’ve been surprised. The two sides reportedly had mutual interest in LeVert being back with Cleveland, and while his contract being for $32 million on a two-year deal may have been a bit of an overpay, he’s a player that has plenty of value for them.

LeVert took time to get going last season as a scorer, and in the 2022-23 campaign, he had only 12.1 points per contest, which was below his career splits of 14.1 points per game.

He was seemingly having issues finding his rhythm alongside Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, and last season, he was not nearly as effective inside the arc than in years past for much of the year. LeVert hit 46.2 percent of his two-point attempts last year, largely because of his struggles in the mid-range and/or in the lane, where he couldn’t quite find his touch as much.

Fortunately, as the season progressed, LeVert appeared to be more comfortable, and when he was more so in a set bench role, he found ways to give Cleveland a significant lift as a two-way presence. Even with some offensive inconsistencies in the scoring sense, he was a key playmaker when he was in contests, and LeVert’s defense made a difference.

Further, with his role more solidified as likely Cleveland’s first sub, with his multifaceted play in mind, Cleveland needs LeVert to regularly set the tone for their bench looking onward.

The Cavaliers need LeVert to set the tone for their bench from here.

LeVert is set to be Cleveland’s sixth man, and with him settled in that role more, the results should be more consistent.

He did connect on a career-best 39.2 percent from three-point range last season, which was a great sign, but LeVert’s slashing and on-ball play should be more successful next season with him further acclimated with Cleveland. Plus, the Cavaliers bringing in Max Strus and Georges Niang should give LeVert more room to operate as a driver and on-ball threat from here.

Beyond the scoring aspect of his play, generally, however, the Cavs need LeVert to lead the bench and set the tone with his multifaceted skill set.

LeVert’s playmaking, hustle and defense were impressive for the Wine and Gold last season, and that has to continue. He had 3.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds per contest in 2022-23, and his impact as a ball mover was evident throughout the campaign.

While it is still a possibility there could be some scoring inconsistencies for him with others involved, those other areas of his game can still be constants and carried forward from last year, provided LeVert’s healthy. If he stays bought in to playing unselfish basketball and not forcing things, he should be a solid two-way contributor for Cleveland.

Overall, with him being able to make plays for himself and others, pressure opponents on the other end, and help generate transition opportunities when he’s in games, LeVert should be the Cavaliers’ bench unit leader.

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If he can remain healthy, he can be the tone-setter for that group, and be a crucial player in years ahead. Injuries have been a concern with LeVert, though, and if he ends up dealing with ailments, that would make it tougher for him to establish a rhythm. Hopefully that’s not the case.