Shooting in “C” Minor
After a blockbuster trade that ultimately saved his life, Caris LeVert's first full season as a Pacer should be one for the books as the Pacers look to get back to playoff form.
When Caris LeVert was traded from Brooklyn to Indiana no one knew that his basketball career would be in jeopardy. During Caris’s physical, when the trade was finalized, he found out that he had a small mass on his left kidney that would leave him out indefinitely. He had successful surgery on January 26th of this year and would make his Pacers debut on March 13th in a win against Phoenix.
Caris would go on to score 13 points on 35% shooting from the field in his debut. Rusty, of course, Caris would continue to settle in and for the rest of the season, he would average 21.3 PPG on 42% shooting from the field. Caris has always been known as a bucket since his days in Brooklyn, and he showed flashes of that when he returned from injury. Of the 34 games that Caris played since his return from injury, he scored 20 or more in 17 of them. This includes four 30 plus point performances, one of them being a 36 point game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Caris has had plenty of memorable moments in his career thus far, his coming-out party against Philly in the 2019 NBA Playoffs quickly comes to mind. Caris averaged 21.0 PPG in five games against the Sixers that saw him guarded by the likes of Ben Simmons and then Sixers SG, Jimmy Butler. His 51 point performance in an OT win over Boston showed NBA fans the potential he had to be a top guard in the league, and his 37 point performance in the “Bubble” against Dame got the Trailblazers guard’s approval.
When looking at Caris, the only thing that has held him back is “untimely injuries”. With everything going on with a Pacers team that dealt with horrible injuries this past season and the team not liking its now-former head coach, Caris gave Indiana a glimpse of hope as he along with Malcolm Brogdon and Oshae Brissett carried the Pacers to a spot in the NBA’s “Play-In” tourney. Unfortunately, Caris would enter Covid protocol, and although Indiana would get past Charlotte, they would ultimately fall to the Wizards.
Looking ahead to next season, the Pacers, now coached by Rick Carlisle have a lot of questions to answer. Brogdon & Caris seemingly make up a great backcourt while backup PG TJ McConnell may look for a chance to start elsewhere in free agency. Myles Turner's name has been brought up repeatedly in trade rumors and Oshae Brissett made more than a statement after he was picked up off waivers to help combat injuries.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Caris improves with a full off-season and training camp with Indiana and how Carlisle uses him offensively. I think we all know that Caris is the primary scorer for them while Brogdon can score, he is a way better defender and facilitator. Carlisle-coached teams typically have one of the best offenses in the league year after year, and with the amount of talent Indiana has, we can almost expect them to do damage on the offensive end next season.