HomeBasketball TodayLeVert's Sixth Man Skills Shine Bright in Cavs' Tough Loss to Bulls

LeVert’s Sixth Man Skills Shine Bright in Cavs’ Tough Loss to Bulls

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Win or lose, Caris LeVert is putting in work for the Cavs.

Cleveland Cavaliers swingman Caris LeVert is continuing to make his case for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award even in the Cavs’ 132-122 double-overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

While Sixth Man of the Year typically goes to the league’s leading bench scorer, it might be time to reconsider the merits of the award. Right now, the three best bench-scoring threats are Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (17.1 points per game), Atlanta Hawks forward Bogdan Bogdanovic (16.9 points per game) and Dallas Mavericks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.8 points per game).

Of those three players, the only one on a winning team in the thick of the playoff hunt is Hardaway Jr. with the Mavericks. For Clarkson and Bogdanovic, their scoring numbers are empty calories, which is why, when considering Sixth Man of the Year, it shouldn’t be how many points per game a player averages off the bench. Instead, winning should be added to the equation and carry as much weight.

With that in mind, Cavs swingman Caris LeVert’s accomplishments should be held in similar regard to what Hardaway Jr. has accomplished so far this season with Dallas.

In 47 appearances with only one start under his belt, LeVert has averaged 14.1 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.8 steals in 27.4 minutes per game. For context, those numbers are career-best numbers during LeVert’s time in Cleveland while playing the least amount of minutes per game since joining the Cavs. While LeVert has shared he could start for most teams in the NBA, he also shared he’d rather sacrifice chasing statistics and winning with Cleveland, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by those who know him best.

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“He’s been really great at understanding what we’re trying to do,” said Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “He’s sacrificing to create for others and I think he’s doing a great job.”

More importantly, LeVert’s sacrifices have led to what should matter the most in the Sixth Man of the Year sweepstakes: Winning. Moreover, even if Cleveland is unable to secure the win whenever LeVert plays, his on-court sacrifices still keep Cleveland in the mix of things until the very end. In the Cavs’ loss to the Bulls, LeVert had a career-best 15 assists off the bench, which ties a Cavs franchise record set by Bobby Washington in 1971

“He’s just making the right plays over and over again,” said big man Evan Mobley about LeVert’s playmaking. “Anytime he’s seen a guy open, he passes it and guys are knocking it down. If guys aren’t open, he scores, continually making the right plays.”

LeVert’s 15 dimes led to 37 points scored by Cleveland and, if you include the 14 points LeVert scored on his own, Cleveland’s sixth man was responsible for 41.8% of all points scored by the Cavs. While this came in a double-overtime loss, it’s safe to say that no other legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate is performing at the same level as LeVert.

Sure, the step back against Chicago that Cleveland suffered could put a little bit of rain on LeVert’s Sixth Man of the Year Parade. But, that one loss doesn’t crystalize the entire season, and, considering that the Cavs are still in second place in the Eastern Conference, it doesn’t change the trajectory of their entire season.

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Besides, there are still plenty of chances for the Cavs to get back into the win column after the Cavs’ loss to the Bulls. But, even in defeat, this performance from LeVert is another feather in his cap for Sixth Man of the Year, and going forward, it’s time to seriously consider him for the award.

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About the Author

Evan Dammarell is an award-winning sports journalist covering all things Cleveland, including the Cavs, right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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