Kyle Korver Could Put the Cavaliers Over the Top
Well, the rich just keep getting richer, don't they?
Late last night, word broke that the Atlanta Hawks were in the final stages of trade discussions. After a week of speculation about potential impending free agent Paul Millsap, it instead will be a different face on the move.
Former All-Star (remember that?) Kyle Korver, now 35 and not quite what he once was, is reportedly set to head to the Cleveland Cavaliers, for a protected 2019 first-round pick, veteran swingman Mike Dunleavy, and the contract of guard Mo Williams, who is out for the season.
The Cavaliers first have to work out a deal to get their own 2018 pick back from the Portland Trail Blazers to make the deal work, as you can't trade first round picks in consecutive seasons. Reports are that they'll send their 2017 first rounder to the Blazers to make the logistics work.
What the Deal Means
On its face, the move makes sense for both teams. The Hawks get back a first-round pick for a player they were unlikely to resign, while adding the veteran Dunleavy on a cheap contract for this season and next.
The Cavaliers have been banged up and have little cap space to make any kind of a move. J.R. Smith's thumb injury has exposed a weakness in their perimeter shooting, something that Korver will certainly help bolster, so giving up the pick clearly makes sense for them.
Despite remaining as aerodynamic as possible during the offseason by eschewing any and all shirt wearing activities, Smith was struggling this year, shooting just 33.7% from the floor and 36.2% from three and posting a negative offensive box plus/minus for the first time his sophomore season in 2005-06.
While he's not quite the player he was during his Atlanta heyday, Korver is still a productive shooter, burying triples at a 40.9% clip.
Even though his production has tailed off slightly the past couple seasons, Korver is far from washed up. In fact, he's exactly the kind of catch-and-shoot player that the Cavaliers covet.
When they run the pick-and-roll with any two of the LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving triumvirate, shooters are going to be open. Remember Channing Frye's renaissance upon his arrival in the Mistake by the Lake? Well Korver is set up to be the guard version of that, except he's a better shooter than Frye ever was.
Korver doesn't shoot the corner three as much as you might think, with only 6.03% of his total shot attempts coming from the left corner and 2.03% from the right.
Overall, 52.03% of his total field goal attempts this season have come above the break (that is, three-pointers that are not from the corners). However, if Smith's role is the one he'll be filling, the numbers align neatly.
Smith takes 59.03% of his shots from above the break, while 6.85% come from the left corner and 5.85% come from the right. In other words, Smith's role is to do what Korver did in Atlanta and just do more of it. I'm sure this is something Yung Kutcher can handle.
So far this season, he's scored 63.9% of his 9.5 points per game on assisted threes, and 94.4% of all his made baskets are assisted by a teammate. His effective field goal percentage of 57.3 (9th) and true shooting percentage of 59.4 (16th) still rate right in the midst the elite guards in the NBA.
His minuscule usage rate of 14.3% is typical and perfectly in line with his 2012 to 2014 peak. This is not a man who needs the ball in his hands for longer than a second. He's a perfect fit for the Cleveland offense with their ball-dominant stars.
There's been a lot of talk that is a superfluous move by the Cavaliers, that Korver won't even see the floor when Smith returns.
The numbers don't bear that out. Korver is still very good. Remember, also, that things are going to be even easier for him in Cleveland. The Cavaliers just added a dead-eye shooter for basically nothing and may have made themselves favorites to repeat for the title in the process.
Our algorithms give them a 15.0% chance to repeat as champs, third-highest title odds in the NBA.