Kyle Korver has spent his career hitting threes, now he has hit the jackpot. Despite the expected initial sadness leaving his home of the previous 4 seasons, Korver will be licking his lips once plugged in with the Cavaliers. In a contract year and heading into a bumper salary cap jump, Korver was struggling with his role on a very different Atlanta team but now finds himself in
DISNEYCleveLAND. The Happiest Place On Earth.
The Cavs pulled off another great move sending Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams and their 2019 first round pick (Top 10 protected) to the Hawks in exchange for Korver. Unfortunately, Dunleavy never settled into his role in Ohio. So adding him to the contract of the retired Williams and a likely late first is further sorcery from GM,
LeBron David Griffin. Why you ask? Because even if it’s a short-term rental, Korver is going to matter.
Back in December, I included something in my second roster roundup for the year on Korver’s shooting woes and possible reasoning. Korver was taking an absurd amount of his shots from the top of the key, which was greatly (if not entirely) effecting his overall percentages. This is something Coach Nick of Bball Breakdown took another step further and explains much better than I ever could. Take a look at the reason for Korver’s dip in efficiency from deep this season due to the ways in which he was getting his shots. Then watch how plays called for him in Cleveland will differ dramatically, before taking a look at how Korver generally fares in such situations.
So where does he fit in? Coach Lue has already confirmed the plan is for Korver to come off the bench, so expect him to take the 16 or so minutes a night vacated by Dunleavy in the rotation and pick up a handful more dependant on play. So first, let’s compare the current season form of Korver and Dunleavy per 36 minutes each to gain a perspective of immediate impact.
On the surface the season comparison isn’t too different, with both guys having sub-par years. However, already you can see a “down on form” Korver still shoots better from everywhere and provides just a little more gloss in several other key box score indicators. Taking things a little further to a shot chart comparison, it’s hard to argue that Korver is not a clear upgrade. Even with a much higher sample size, Kyle is out-shooting Dunleavy in almost every area outside the arc which can only mean good things for the Cavs.
Next, I wanted to take a look at the situations in which Dunleavy missed his three point attempts. With the help of 3ball I was able to compile almost every miss from Dunleavy (we are a couple short) so far this season and it really is fascinating viewing. Hint: watch it with your virtual reality Kyle Korver glasses on.
Dunleavy misses a staggering amount of in-rhythm open shots and it’s hard to see Kyle rimming so many of the same attempts. In fact, a look at the stats will further illustrate that he just won’t. In this current season, 85% of Dunleavy’s 3 point attempts have been either open (closest defender 4-6 feet) or wide open (6+ feet) whereas Korver has only had 66% of his attempts with the same lack of pressure. Yet under those circumstances Dunleavy could only hit 34.8% and 36% of his shots respectively. Compare that to Korver’s 42.1% and 49% and it further illustrates the situational upgrade.
But “Korver will be paid far more attention than Dunleavy ever was” is the obvious rebuttal, which is a valid and perfectly fine statement to make. However keep in mind that as Coach Lue has already stated, Korver will be deployed with lineups such as Kyrie-LeBron-Jefferson-Frye. So “pick your poison” as Lue suggests. You could stay tight with Korver to eliminate his shooting threat but you will just be opening up the floor for James and Irving to operate. That is the true beauty in adding a guy like Kyle Korver.
With a potential Finals Trilogy just months away, the failed series of the 14/15 season against GSW seems such a distant memory for LeBron & Co. More importantly, it seems to have served as a great learning experience. Despite being short-handed at the time, Cleveland has resisted the urge to be stubborn or make excuses and has been prepared to alter the way they play to beat what is in front of them. This time they have added another great piece, even if only for their Championship defence before parting ways. While Korver has an opportunity at his first ring and a nice payday if he shows out in the process. Perhaps Golden State will need to have that moment in the mirror on their own journey. For now, your move Warriors.