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LeVert Becomes Breakout Star For Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert is averaging nearly 25 points per game in the first three games of the season. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The caveat is it’s too early to make firm judgments but there are some things we might be able to tell about the Nets through three games and perhaps this is the breakout season for Caris LeVert.

While the Nets are only three games into the six-month marathon and the problem areas such as turnovers and defense are appearing, LeVert is the star of the first week.

LeVert’s emergence is not necessarily stunning but perhaps surprising how quickly it is occurring.

He is averaging nearly 25 points per game so far and while he might not maintain that pace, it’s possible LeVert could hover around the 20 points per game range.

LeVert can score in many ways. He might be the Nets best slasher to the rim. Just ask former Michigan teammate Tim Hardaway Jr.

All of this is being achieved with a relatively thin frame but so far, he is showing an ability to slink by an interior defense and the early numbers say so.

On shots at the rim or within three to 10 feet, LeVert is shooting 72 percent (18-of-25) and on shots classified at layups and dunks he is shooting 70.5 percent (12-of-17) and on jumpers, LeVert is a 60.9 percent shooter (14-of-23).

LeVert appears poised to take the next step in his development and an All-Star berth could be in his future while the Nets work through things such as averaging 20.3 turnovers per game.

Another trend developing is close games as two of three games are one possession affairs with mixed results, a three-point loss in Detroit and a two-point win over New York, though the game in Detroit could have turned out differently if not for a late turnover by LeVert.

So far, the Nets are who many thought them to be, a team who plays hard and engages in several close games with the occasional dud such as Saturday’s 132-112 loss at Indiana and LeVert is getting out of the gate quicker than anticipated.

While LeVert is rolling in the early going, the opposite is true for D’Angelo Russell. Russell is entering the last year of his contract and through three games he is shooting 35.1 percent and averaging 11.7 points.

Russell’s early numbers are not in line with his career numbers of 14.5 points and 40.8 percent from the field. The good news for Russell and the Nets is he is healthy as a knee injury limited him to 48 games (35 starts) last season.

If the Nets can get Russell and LeVert going then they could get that Brooklyn backcourt thing like a younger version of seven years ago with Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

Another key component of the backcourt is Spencer Dinwiddie, who began opening eyes about a year ago with a 22-point showing against Cleveland. Dinwiddie wound up capitalizing on extended playing time to average 12.6 points in 80 games despite shooting 38.7 percent.

This year, he is the sixth man and is averaging 15.3 points on 43.9 percent shooting. Dinwiddie has drawn more attention for his comments about who the better New York team is but so far is doing his job effectively.

So far, LeVert is looking like the real deal, Dinwiddie is effective and the Russell is still off to a slow start.

Get all three going the Nets have something. Get two rolling, they could be in the conversation for the postseason but with the potential and actual production, the Nets are on the right track after several years of going through the wilderness of winning less than 30 games.

As for what is lacking on the Nets, injuries are hurting some depth. The good news is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is slated to make his season debut tonight in Cleveland after an offseason hip injury.

Hollis-Jefferson is the best defender, a guy who can guard multiple positions and defend in numerous situations. And while the Nets are around average in points allowed, the drop-off is noticeable when Hollis-Jefferson is absent for long stretches.

This also is a big year for him from a contract perspective. He is making a guaranteed $2.47 million this season and is eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer.

Three games does not offer much. It’s a small tease of possible trends that could unfold at best, but in Week One it’s a mixed bag of solid performances, things in need of improvement and adjustments that could be made.

Week One did not change neccesarily alter any perceptions about what the Nets are. If anything, it opened up some eyes to a breakout season by LeVert.



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