Big 10

Brooklyn Nets inside information aided in surprise early pick of Caris LeVert

June 23, 2016

ANN ARBOR — Caris LeVert’s selection as the No. 20 overall pick in Thursday night’s 2016 NBA draft caught most off-guard, including those analyzing the live action.

The consensus, though, was that LeVert was a lottery talent tainted only by injury concerns.

The Brooklyn Nets, though, via a selection by the Indiana Pacers, went with upside over injury concerns.

As Bobby Marks, an analyst for The Vertical and a former general manager for Brooklyn, noted, “The Nets had an advantage here.”

It turns out that Dr. Martin O’Malley, the doctor who performed LeVert’s foot surgery on March 22, is the Brooklyn Nets’ team foot and ankle specialist.

“(The Nets) had the information right there,” Marks said. “(The Nets) had a comfort level.”

At the same time, Marks added: “It’s a little bit of a bold move, considering (the Nets) moved Thaddeus Young.”

Young, a nine-year pro who averaged 15.1 points per game last year, was dealt in exchange for the No. 20 pick.

Prior to being selected, LeVert was projected as potentially going anywhere from the late first round to late second round.

Instead, he only missed the lottery by six picks.

“He’s always been a first-round talent,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas said. “He’s very efficient. It’s just the multiple injuries that gave you concern.”

Indiana head coach Tom Crean, entirely familiar with LeVert after four years of Big Ten play, noted while serving as an analyst for The Vertical that the Nets must have “tremendous faith in the medical reports.”

“He’s had as much to do with Michigan’s success as almost any of the guys that moved on to the NBA because of his improvement level,” Crean added. “If he would have stayed healthy — now, he had some rough games this year; even in the SMU game when he played earlier in the season I think he went 1-for-13 in that game — but if he’d had stayed healthy, I think we’d be talking about him in the same breath at Kris Dunn with the ballscreen for a big guard.”

Mike Schmitz of Draft Express, also appearing on The Vertical, said that when LeVert was healthy he did “a good job maximizing his game.”

“You’d like to see him be a little more assertive, but who he’ll be at the NBA level is not a need-to-go-get-a-bucket type of guy,” Schmitz said. “He’s going to be a role guy in the NBA. I don’t think he needs to be an alpha dog killer. I think he’ll play a nice role as a guy who can play on and off the ball.”

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