Caris LeVert’s injury was brutal. There is no other way to put it.
The initial reaction, unfortunately, is that this is a crusher. LeVert was just starting to break through. And he is such a good, kind person. You can see it when he speaks, in his interviews, his work with children and the like. He embodies what the Nets want to be. Good at basketball. Confident but not cocky. Unfailingly kind. This injury stinks. And it could not have happened to a better person, at a worse time.
In addition, the Nets must grapple with the very real possibility that LeVert does not come back the same from this injury. There is precedent for significant injuries derailing careers. This would obviously be a blow – he is the best player the Nets have, by a long shot.
Lastly, it must be noted that this injury is a crusher for the fanbase. A large contingent of Nets fans have stood by this team through so much, really ever since Jason Kidd forced a trade in 2008. 12-70. Lost final New Jersey years. All the promise in Brooklyn derailed by Deron Williams’ ankle. All the lost draft picks. All the jokes. And just when things finally start to be looking up, this happens. It stinks.
With all of this said, in situations like this, you HAVE to try to squeeze out the positives: there is no other way. Positive thinking brings positive results.
So: what positives can the Nets take from this? Please note: the overwhelming arc here is that this is a sad, sad day. Still, you have to TRY to take some positives from this to move forward as an organization. Here are some.
1: LeVert can come back the same or better:
A bad injury does not automatically end or derail a career. Look at Paul George. He’s basically the same guy as he was before his brutal achilles injury. Look at Brook Lopez for that matter. He probably came back better after each foot surgery than the one before it. There are plenty of examples of guys rallying from brutal injuries, no worse for the wear. If that happens, we will look back on today as a moment, while brutal, that made LeVert stronger, and did not compromise this rebuild.
2: a higher draft pick:
This one is easy: the Nets should stumble into a high pick pretty easily without LeVert. If he comes back the same, the Nets will reap the simultaneous benefits of his growth and the obtaining of a better blue chip to pair with him.
3: more evaluation time for other pieces:
With LeVert out, other players necessarily will take on bigger roles, providing the Nets with an enhanced ability to evaluate the entire roster.
The biggest part of this: D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie. With LeVert out, both players will necessarily have much larger roles, providing a significant opportunity for additional evaluation of both, given their upcoming free agencies.
The Nets have clearly made LeVert “the guy” late in games. That obviously changed now: Russell and Dinwiddie will see more responsibility in these clutch situations. Kenny will not be in a position to leave either on the bench.
One thing is for sure: whether the Nets proceed forward with neither, both, or one of the players, the inability of either player to stick in Brooklyn will not be attributable to their not getting a chance to prove themselves.
Often, the toughest thing about young free agents is the lack of information on what the player is. With their roles now being huge, the Nets will garner plenty of info on DLO and Spencer. They will run the team plenty in big spots and the coaching staff will get to see what they have.
4: less likely they make a reckless mid season deal:
This one is a little more of a reach but the Nets were headed for a mid 30’s win year. The worst thing they could’ve done was make a big picture sacrifice for a win now move to declare they made the playoffs as a free agency pitch. Now, a move like this appears less likely.