After suiting up for 19 regular season games (including 10 starts), as well as two play-in tournament games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, it’s difficult to definitively determine whether or not Cavs guard Caris LeVert will be a part of the team’s future past the 2022-23 season.
Throughout the off-season, much of the focus seemed be on former Cavalier Collin Sexton and his on-going contract negotiations with the franchise. The focus has now shifted quite a bit with the recent acquisition of star guard Donovan Mitchell in a deal that included Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji and draft capitol. With the trade leaving an opening in the starting lineup, LeVert may have an opportunity to cement himself as a member of the team’s core moving forward.
Weight: 205 pounds
2021-22 stats: 58 games, 17.0 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, 4.3 assists per game, 44.4% FG, 32.0% 3PT
LeVert will have no shortage of questions to answer during the duration of the 2022-23 campaign starting with whether or not he can remain healthy over the course of the full 82 game schedule, something that has plagued him consistently throughout his entire career. He has only played in more than 70 games once, the 2017-18 season.
Due to the aforementioned trade for Mitchell, he may also have to showcase an improved ability to operate off-ball as well, specifically as an off-ball shooter. His small sample size with the Cavs (19 games) suggest that he could be a viable threat from range in catch & shoot scenarios as he completed 44.4% of his 1.9 attempts from beyond the arc. Hos previous career marks, however, are lower, so it’s also possible that was just a hot run for LeVert.
Another question that looms large is whether or not he can translate his size and length to the less glamorous end of the floor. There is no way to sugar coat it, he must improve defensively. In the 567 total minutes LeVert played, the Cavs allowed an additional 7.5 per per 100 possessions. Listed at 6’6” with a 6’10” wingspan, he has the physical gifts to become a menace on that end of the floor. He just has to utilize them to his advantage, especially if he sees a heavy dose of minutes at the three.
As a facilitator, I expect LeVert to produce his best season yet due to the dearth of talent that will be taking the floor alongside him. His 4.4 assists per game last season was a respectable amount for a traditional two-guard and his 0.86 assist-to-usage ratio in his 19 games ranked within the 90th percentile for wings. He will move the ball and is likely the best option in that regard among the other candidates that could lineup at the three. These numbers should only increase this upcoming season given the fact that he’ll have had a full offseason with the team.
In terms of scoring, LeVert could see a modest increase from the 13.6 points per game he put up with Cleveland if he becomes more efficient with his opportunities. My prediction is that his overall shot attempts will decline but his three-point attempts will grow. He took 3.5 per game with Cleveland last season. I’d expect that number to hover around the 5 per game mark in 2022-23. It’s very likely that the mere presence of Mitchell and Garland will generate additional looks for him. He will need to capitalize upon these added opportunities.
Perhaps the biggest question of all is whether or not he will be signed to a long-term deal following this upcoming season. This will likely remain unanswered until the end of the 2022-23 campaign but LeVert can make the Cavs decision easier by going out there and performing. He has flashed his potential numerous times throughout the years. Whether or not he can do it consistently may make or break his future with the team.