Caris LeVert shines off bench in preseason debut for Nets

With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the floor, it’s easy to just sit back and watch. Which is exactly what the Nets don’t want out of Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie.

After missing the preseason opener with a minor knee issue, LeVert debuted with 18 points in Friday’s 113-89 win at Boston. He came off the bench as the sixth man with Dinwiddie starting. But whichever one is in the lineup with Durant and Irving, the Nets want them to stay aggressive rather than defer too much.

“Caris can score as fast as anybody. He can play off the ball and shoot the 3,” Durant said. “But for us, when he comes in and handles the rock with me and Kyrie out on the floor, that’s going to open the floor up for him so much more.

“We’re going to need him to be aggressive, especially coming off that bench and commanding that second unit. It’s good for him to come back out on the floor after missing that first preseason game and a couple of days of practice. Hopefully, he just keeps getting better and more comfortable in that role.”

Caris LeVert makes his preseason debut.
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While coach Steve Nash said he was pleased with how LeVert looked both playing alongside the stars and as sixth man, he agreed that both LeVert and Dinwiddie absolutely have to stay in attack mode.

“[Dinwiddie] is a great basketball player, great athlete. But he’s also skilled and can make plays for his teammates, score, high IQ, so I want Spencer to be aggressive. I don’t want him just to stand and watch,” Nash said. “He’s too athletic and too gifted of a basketball player, too intelligent to just be passing. He needs to be aggressive.”

Dinwiddie was much more muted against the Celtics, with seven points and three assists on just 1-of-7 shooting. But the Nets hit 15-of-32 from 3-point range and will continue to get open looks with Durant and Irving attracting so much attention.

LeVert admitted both stars have spoken to him about staying in attack mode.

“Absolutely,” LeVert said. “Those guys talk to me a lot about, you know, what they expect from me when I’m out there, what they expect from me when I’m coming off the bench.“For me, I’m just aggressive, especially when I’m out there with those guys, because you can’t help off of any of them. You can’t help off of KD, you can’t help off of Ky, you cant help off of Joe [Harris]. So it’s really just me out there playing against my defender, so I feel like Spencer and I will really benefit from those situations, for sure.”

In the annual NBA GM Survey, 81 percent picked the Lakers to repeat. The Nets were picked to finish second in the Eastern Conference behind the Bucks, while only the Lakers and Clippers getting more votes to win the title.

League GMs voted Nash the new or relocated coach who will have the biggest impact on his team and Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni the league’s top assistant.

The Nets claimed forward Paul Eboua off waivers.