Caris LeVert continues to be an inspiration.
The 26-year-old guard will make his much-anticipated Indiana Pacers debut on Saturday when his squad takes on the Phoenix Suns in the desert, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
LeVert was part of the blockbuster four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn way back on January 13th. LeVert was the centerpiece of the trade for Indiana, who also gave up Victor Oladipo in the deal.
When LeVert went in to do his physical exam before officially joining the Pacers, a small cancerous mass was discovered on his left kidney. The mass was surgically removed without issue later in January, but LeVert’s future in the NBA had become somewhat cloudy.
Instead of letting himself be thrown for a loop by a curveball like that, the Columbus, Ohio native focused on his recovery and his inevitable return to the NBA hardwood, recently ramping up his basketball activities in anticipation of his Saturday return date.
His new Pacers teammates are certainly happy to be getting the fifth-year pro in the lineup with them.
“To me, [LeVert] looks ready to play. A complete game-changer, he changes the scouting report,” Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon told The Indianapolis Star on Thursday. “Having another dynamic scorer on the floor can really help this team.”
Saturday will be LeVert’s first game in a Pacers jersey despite them being the team that took him with the 20th pick of the 2016 NBA draft. He was traded to the Nets that summer before ever suiting up for the Pacers, only for things to come full circle five years later with his return to the Hoosier state.
LeVert averaged 18.5 points, 6.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in a dozen contests with the Nets before the January trade. LeVert’s impending return paired with the forthcoming recovery of another dynamic Pacers swing man in TJ Warren will have the Pacers ready to make a playoff push in the second half of the season.
With those two, Brogdon, and the twin towers of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, Indiana should have no trouble making the Eastern Conference’s play-in tournament. Their matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers without LeVert on Friday night—for which they are +160 NBA odds underdogs—is another story.