A day before Thursday night’s NBA Draft, Caris LeVert wrote an open letter to the league’s general managers, asking — almost pleading — for them to look beyond the obvious.
In the essay, published in the Players’ Tribune, LeVert spoke about losing his dad when he was 15 and calling the police after Darryl LeVert succumbed to a heart attack at 46. He talked about undergoing three surgeries on his left foot in less than two calendar years at the University of Michigan — something that forced him to attend the NBA combine in crutches. He went from a lottery-type talent to a possible second-round pick because of those injuries. But, he insisted, he was resilient, and could impact a team at the game’s highest level.
It turns out, Sean Marks and the Nets were listening.
After trading power forward Thaddeus Young to the Pacers for the 20th overall pick in the draft, the Nets chose LeVert, a 6-7, 21-year-old guard with a load of talent and a lot of questions surrounding his ability to stay healthy. It’s a bid to build for the future and, if healthy, LeVert, a shooting guard who can also play the point, offers the Nets the versatility they desperately need.
“I’m really blessed to be in this situation,” LeVert said. “Through the adversity I went through the past couple years, I’m lost for words right now to be here.”
The product of Pickerington, Ohio missed parts of three collegiate seasons due to his injuries, and had his latest surgery in March. Yesterday, he said he probably wouldn’t participate in the summer league, but said his X-rays and CT scans looked good. “I know it’s a lot of work to be put in right now, but I’m just excited to get to this point,” he said.
His talent is indisputable. He was named a preseason All-Big Ten selection in 2014 and 2015, and shot 40.1 percent from three-point range during his college career. LeVert is known for his ball handling and versatility, and averaged 16.9 points and 4.9 assists in his senior year.
Due to cap reasons, the trade will not be official until some time in early July, but Young confirmed his departure on Twitter.
“My family & I would like 2 thank the @BrooklynNets and the Nets fans 4 everything,” he wrote, later tweeting: “Looking forward to new journeys with the @Pacers and the fans.”
Young, who said in May that he had been given assurance that he would not be traded in the offseason, was really one of the few attractive trade chips the Nets had to offer other than big man Brook Lopez. Young averaged 15.1 points and 9.0 rebounds in 73 games during the Nets’ forgettable 21-61 season. General manager Sean Marks said in May that he made no promises, but it was possible that Young and Lopez could return.
The Nets had previously traded away this year’s first-round pick to the Celtics in the blockbuster Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce deal. They did not have control over their own first-round draft pick until 2019, and were slated to choose 55th overall Thursday.