Caris LeVert Looking to Take Next Step This Season

Justin Rimpi

After signing a three-year, $52.5 million extension to stay with the Nets through the 2023-24 season Caris LeVert is entering the 2019-2020 with high expectations.

The guard is expected to be a crucial piece of a Nets team this season that will be without All-Star Kevin Durant for the entirety of the year. LeVert will need to step up to fill the sizable hole left by Durant.

LeVert was limited to 40 games last season, his third one in the league, and was averaging a career-best 13.7 ppg to go along with 43 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent shooting from downtown before he went down in December. Both of these shooting percentages were career-lows for LeVert. LeVert was shooting more shots last season though, and that is what caused his stat line to be quite deceiving. 

He was one of the team's best players over the 40 games in which he suited up for the team.

With that being said, LeVert was able to return from his gruesome foot injury for the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Ultimately, the Nets fell in five games to the Philadelphia 76ers, but LeVert was the best player for Brooklyn during that series.

LeVet averaged 21 ppg on 49 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent shooting from three-point range against the 76ers. Even though this is a small sample size for LeVert, it showed what he is capable of doing during his fourth year in the NBA.

LeVert has been on the record saying that he is looking forward to making the jump to becoming a superstar this season, and wants to represent the Brooklyn Nets as a 2020 All-Star in Chicago.

LeVert has all of the makings of becoming an All-Star and key contributor this season, but he must shoot better over the course of this season than he did during the 40 games he played last season. 

There is no doubt that LeVert will benefit from Kyrie Irving coming into the fold for the Nets this season. Opposing defenses will focus the majority of their defensive energy on stopping the six-time All-Star, which will leave LeVert with a much more wide-open lane to become the team's sure-fire second option on the offensive end of the floor.

LeVert will also have many wide-open shots caused by Irving driving into the lane and passing the ball out to the wing as the defense collapses on Irving. If LeVert is able to take advantage of those opportunities, it will be a great season for him.

LeVert will be called upon by Head Coach Kenny Atkinson to play more minutes than he has played at any time throughout his career. The previous career-high for minutes averaged by LeVert was the 26.6 he played last season.

The former Michigan Wolverine will also have to improve his free-throw shooting if he wants to be a viable option down the stretch in games. He is a career 70 percent shooter from the charity stripe.

LeVert should enter this season with a vengeance set out to prove the Nets bass correct after they gave him a contract extension that keeps him in Brooklyn for another four seasons. 

LeVert will be able to develop into an ever better player for the Nets this season, and will be able to put together the best season of his career to date. Whether or not the improvement by LeVert will correlate to an All-Star selection is yet to be seen, but LeVert and Irving will be able to become one of the most lethal 1-2 punches in the league by season's end.

Then, this Nets team can enter the 2020-2021 season with a healthy Kevin Durant as they set out to win the first championship in the franchise's history in the NBA.