Toronto Raptors: Three restricted free agents for fans to keep an eye on this season

Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
5 of 5
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Danny Green (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Caris LeVert

Caris LeVert doesn’t have as high of an upside in comparison to Murray or Brown. He is two years older and has a significant injury history. LeVert suffered multiple injuries to his left foot while at Michigan.

Due to health concerns, LeVert saw his draft stock fall. He was selected no. 20 overall by the Brooklyn Nets in 2016. LeVert did not make his professional debut until December 7th, as he was still rehabbing his injury. LeVert played 57 games as a rookie, showing flashes of a solid all-around game as a sophomore.

Entering his third season, LeVert looked poised for a breakout campaign. Through the first 14 games, LeVert averaged 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Unfortunately, on November 12, 2018, LeVert suffered a horrifying leg injury. LeVert was lucky. There were no fractures, but he suffered a dislocated right foot.

LeVert returned to the court shortly before the All-Star break, and it took him some time to regain his form.

However, LeVert was arguably the Nets’ best player in their first-round match-up against the 76ers. He averaged 21 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3 assists per game while shooting 46.2 percent from three-point range (on 5.2 attempts), stepping up when the Nets needed him.

It will be interesting to see how LeVert meshes with Irving next season. When D’Angelo Russel increased his usage after LeVert’s injury, it clearly impacted LeVert’s game. Irving dominates the ball even more than Rusell did, and with Durant’s injury, he will be the focal point of the Nets’ offense.

Like Brown, LeVert could end up being a casualty of the salary cap next summer. The Nets have $113 million in committed salaries for the 2020-21 season. The team is paying just over $95 million for Durant, Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeAndre Jordan. Plus Joe Harris and Taurean Prince are set to be free agents. It is unlikely all three will be retained. Harris and Prince might be viewed as better complimentary players to surround Irving and Durant.

Teams interested in making a run at LeVert will have questions about how much further he can elevate his game. LeVert is a good ball handler. He is capable of initiating the offense and creating opportunities for his teammates. LeVert has also shown promise as a three-point shooter.

Given his size, at 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, LeVert can match up with most guards. His ability to play either the 1 or the 2 also provides lineup flexibility in terms of the other guard spot in the starting lineup.

LeVert will turn 25 before the start of the season. Prospective teams should not expect LeVert to take a major leap in his progression and become an All-NBA level player. He may end up being selected to one or two All-Star games in his career, but he will never be the best player on a championship team.

The two-way potential simply is not present. LeVert has a thin frame. He struggles to defender bigger players, whereas Murray and Brown have already established themselves as two of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA. If Murray or Brown can make strides in their offensive game, they bring more to the table than someone like LeVert. Regardless, at the right price, LeVert will be an asset who can help a team win.

This summer has been about reclamation projects for the Toronto Raptors. If Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Cameron Payne can take their game to another level, it will be an added bonus for the team. Maybe one of them can develop into a long-term piece.

Next. It's a good thing Vince Carter isn't signing with Raptors. dark

Next summer should be about adding another foundational player. One who can join Siakam and Anunoby forming the core of the next championship team. There are a number of talented young players poised to breakout. The Raptors will be in a position to capitalize on that. They are one of the few teams capable of creating enough cap space for a max contract. Ujiri should be able to leverage his position and continue to build for the future.