In a season that's seen the Cleveland Cavaliers be consistently inconsistent, for the most part, Caris LeVert has been one of the team's bright spots. With him functioning in a sixth man role, and him coming into the season with role clarity after being re-signed over the summer, LeVert has picked up where he left off last season.
On the year, he's had 15.2 points per outing, has given Cleveland quality production and as a slasher and transition presence, and his playmaking and defensive contributions have again been a welcomed sight. LeVert has had 3.5 assists per game thus far, in what's amounted to 19 appearances.
That said, given the recent injury news about Darius Garland expected to miss "several" weeks because of a fractured jaw, it would seem LeVert could end up starting in that time. But he didn't on Saturday in Cleveland's nice win against the Atlanta Hawks, thanks to a fast start, and while that was one game, it was another reminder of how LeVert should probably still come off the bench.
LeVert has had success in a sixth man role with the Cavs, and even with the Garland injury, that should hold firm with the boost he provides there.
LeVert is arguably one of the Cavaliers' five best players, and with Garland sidelined, there's an argument to be made that he should be one of Cleveland's starters until Garland is back. LeVert is one of Cleveland's top creators and playmakers, and he's exceeded expectations in his time with the Cavs on defense.
However, with him coming into this season with a solidified crucial bench/sixth man role, it is still probably the right call for him to continue to function in that way for the Wine and Gold, even with DG out.
LeVert can realistically come in for Isaac Okoro and/or Max Strus at times, and as an added benefit, with LeVert having his share of time playing with a variety of starters and bench guys, he can take some pressure off of Donovan Mitchell.
Now, this isn't to diminish Mitchell having a career-best 13 assists on Saturday; even still, LeVert is one of Cleveland's best ball-movers, and he'll make his presence felt in that aspect in weeks ahead. For further context, LeVert has placed in the 89th percentile among wings thus far this season in assist rate, per Cleaning The Glass.
In any case, to drive the point home, while Garland is going to be sidelined for a number of weeks, and Mobley is out for an extended period, and one could advocate for LeVert to start, with what he means for Cleveland's bench, he should continue to be essentially its lead sub.
After an initial game back where he seemed a bit out of sorts at times, LeVert seems to be physically back, so-to-speak, after he missed four games recently with knee soreness.
Granted, he wasn't his best versus the Hawks, as he was six-of-15 from the field and had three turnovers to one assist on Saturday night. That aside, by and large, LeVert has proven to be an impact player, and due to the pop he can provide when coming off the bench, it's probably the right move to keep him in that role. He and Craig Porter Jr. can handle some minutes as key playmakers in weeks ahead, too, and those two are both players that can push the pace from defense to offense really effectively.
Plus, pertaining to LeVert, one would imagine he could be a regular presence later in games when needed, which is something to keep in mind as games progress.
So, generally, to preserve clarity for him, and for the betterment of the bench, having LeVert continue to be a crucial sub for the Cavs, even sans Garland, is probably still the way to go for J.B. Bickerstaff and company in weeks ahead.