Caris LeVert will return for Friday night’s game. For the surging Brooklyn Nets, he couldn’t have come back at a better time.
After missing two and a half months due to a freak foot injury, guard Caris LeVert will return to the court. It couldn’t be more timely for the Brooklyn Nets, who are preparing to make a push for the playoffs.
LeVert suffered a dislocated foot in a November game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Brooklyn at 6-8, seemed a wash for the rest of the year, having lost their best player.
The third-year guard averaged 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game in that span. LeVert was everywhere, scoring on all three levels, and even hitting game winners on the road:
It was a crushing blow for the Nets. Yet, they turned the negative energy into the highest of positives, going on an incredible winning streak. From the beginning of December to the final week of January, Brooklyn won 20 of 25 games.
They’ve climbed into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and are now welcoming LeVert back into the lineup. There are plenty of questions, or concerns a typical fan may have ahead of Friday.
Will it be the same LeVert that left them in November?
Gordon Hayward, after earning his first All-Star appearance with the Utah Jazz, suffered a similar injury in his first game with the Boston Celtics. The player who returned has, at times, been underwhelming. Fortunately for the Celtics, he’s picking up speed.
But that comes five months after his return to the court. Now, Hayward’s injury was way worse. It was “don’t-Google-it” levels bad. So, an optimist would think LeVert would need less time to get back to where left off.
He’ll undoubtedly start on an aggressive minutes restriction, and it’s unlikely he’ll see more than 20 minutes a night in the entire month of February. But then again, this recovery has been swift.
Is this why Brooklyn didn’t make a trade at the deadline?
Brooklyn has a more than apparent hole at the power forward position. Most fans expected them to deal for one before the NBA’s trade deadline on Thursday.
But one can’t help but notice the timing of the team’s announcement on LeVert’s return. It’s likely that once the guard gave his doctors and coach the green light, general manager Sean Marks felt even less pressure to make a deal.
I say less pressure in regards to Brooklyn’s success. We’ve all heard the saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” The Nets are 29-27 and looking like a sure-fire playoff team. With LeVert back and Dinwiddie on the mend, why force anything?
The Nets front office can now evaluate just what they’ve got in this young core, and address what kind of player they should target come July’s free agency market. Not dealing at the deadline because you didn’t have to is a good problem to have.
How does this impact D’Angelo Russell?
Ah, yes. The Brooklyn Nets finally have an All-Star, and fans have taken a liking to Russell this season.
It will be interesting to see how this impacts his streak. Russell is averaging 25.6 points and 7.1 assists per game over the Nets last 10. He’s shooting the three-ball at an incredible rate and is really leading the charge for Brooklyn.
If you’ve watched a majority of the Nets games this season, you know that wasn’t always true. In particular, at the beginning of the season, when LeVert was healthy.
Russell averaged 16.7 points and just five assists per game over the 14 games LeVert played to start the year. You can blame that on rust from being off in the summer, or a number of things.
But it’s been noticeable, the struggles Brooklyn has had to maintain a rhythm between their three guards (Spencer Dinwiddie being the third). Still, it’s safe to say Russell will sustain his streak, as LeVert returns on a minutes restriction.
But keep an eye on that as they inch towards the postseason.
Caris LeVert will make his return to the court Friday night, with the Brooklyn Nets taking on the lowly Chicago Bulls. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. ET.