The Orlando bubble was a coming-out party for Brooklyn Nets rising star Caris LeVert. In the bubble LeVert put the NBA on notice, averaging 25.0 points, 6.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in just 33 minutes of play. This included a monster 37-point game against Damian Lillard and the Blazers in the season finale.
With Caris showing out in the bubble is it possible that he has the skillset to be the third star on the Nets? According to Steve Nash, even if that is the case his contributions may not be coming from the starting lineup. “Caris is a starter. Will he start for us? I’m not sure yet,” Nash told the media on Sunday.
Nash Sees LeVert Playing A Manu Ginobili Role
“He’s so good with the ball in his hands that there’s a case to be made that he plays that Manu Ginobili role,” said Nash. Nash is a former player who is all too familiar with the greatness of Manu having gone to war with the Spurs in the postseason several times. Ginobili is a four-time NBA Champion and former Sixth Man of the Year Award winner who will almost surely be selected to the Hall of Fame the first time he is eligible in 2022. Manu accomplished all of this coming off of the bench his entire career and although he rarely started games he was always a part of Gregg Popovich‘s lineups to finish games. “Manu played in All-Star Games. Start on the bench and run the second unit, closed games. So we’ll see how it goes”
LeVert Still Views Himself As A Starter
Although Caris has always viewed himself as a starter he’s not concerned about whether he starts games for the Nets this season or not. He is up to play whatever role the team needs him to win games. “For sure, I feel like I’ve always viewed myself as a starter, even when y’all were laughing at me three years ago or whatever it was,” LeVert told Kristian Winfield of the Daily News. “But whatever role it takes. You always want to do whatever it takes to maximize the win and try to make the collective the best possible. A well-rounded game, whatever it was across the stat sheet, is kind of my position on this team now.”
The Nets Have A Guard-Heavy Roster
The Nets are a very guard-heavy team, getting Kyrie back from injury and acquiring Landry Shamet from the Clippers this offseason to go along with Spencer Dinwiddie and Tyler Johnson. With so many guards in the Nets rotation, coming off the bench may be the best decision for a player as talented as LeVert according to Nash. “There is a thought that he could have more reps with the ball in his hands if he captains the second unit for two stretches in a game, then plays with the starters at moments or to close. All that stuff is to be figured out but it’s great decisions for a coach to have.”
LeVert won’t be the first talented guard to come off the bench. Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith, and Lou Williams made careers captaining the second unit. James Harden started his career coming off of the bench in OKC and was a big part of the reason they made it to the NBA Finals in 2012. All of the above-mentioned names went on to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award and Harden eventually went on to win league MVP honors. Does Caris have what it takes to be the 2021 Sixth Man of the Year? We’ll find out when the Nets open their season at Barclays Center vs the Warriors on Sunday.