It’s hardly an understatement to say that the Jazz were underwhelmed with their early-season 3-point shooting, and so they traded for Kyle Korver to give it a boost.
Which raises the natural question — how’s that working out so far?
OK, so first off, the four games they’ve played with him represent a statistically insignificant sample size. There are no concrete conclusions to be drawn from a 4.9-percent portion of an 82-game regular season.
That said … the deep balls are going in the hoop more often with Korver than they were before.
In the 22 games that Utah played without Korver this season, the Jazz averaged 10.0 3-pointers per game on 31.5 attempts — a 31.9-percent conversion rate. In the four games with Korver, they’re making 14.3 per game on 34.5 attempts — a 41.3-percent success rate, highlighted by Tuesday’s net-blistering win against the Spurs.
Again, it’s a small sample size. Nevertheless, everyone on the team has raved not merely about Korver’s shooting abilities, which are, indeed, prodigious, but about the possibilities he opens up for everyone else.
“He’s great — a sharpshooter. He spaces the floor out even more. Teams focus a lot on him coming off screens, so somebody else is gonna be open,” said Royce O’Neale. “[We’re also] having that confidence passing him the ball when he’s open, knowing it’s going in the basket. He’s a great teammate. He’s fitting in really well.”
Center Rudy Gobert is similarly impressed with the spacing Korver creates simply by being present on the court.
He has a gravitational effect, pulling defenders into his orbit, thereby making it simpler for everyone else to operate.
“The whole defense is looking at him, focused on him. He opens up everything for us and makes things easier for us,” Gobert said. “… And we have guys who can find the open man, like Donovan, Ricky, Joe, who can create, and it’s very difficult to guard.”
Donovan Mitchell, who has struggled to shoot the ball from deep this season, said that in his estimation, having Korver on the court is good for teammates in that his presence encourages ongoing offensive assertiveness.
“It’s easy to start to doubt yourself when you start missing shots over and over, game after game. It’s easy for you to overthink it,” Mitchell said. “… It all has to do with your confidence as a whole. If you think the shot’s going in, if you know the shot’s going in, it changes your disposition, it changes your mindset. You’re not thinking about, ‘I missed the past two, the past three; now should I take the fourth one?’ There have been games where I’ve done that. We’ve all done it. And then you get a guy like Kyle, who — and I say this in a good way — just shoots the ball; comes off a screen and lets it fly. He’s making shots that I’ve never seen people take. When you see that happen, it’s like, ‘Alright, there’s always the next shot.’”
Asked about the benefits of having Korver around, coach Quin Snyder initially noted, “The obvious is the shooting, the spacing.” There’s much more, though, in his opinion.
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When Snyder was an assistant coach in Atlanta, he was assigned to give Korver additional instruction. The swingman made an impression then, and continues to do so now.
“His willingness to share — in Kyle’s case, there’s things our players can learn from him and his experience and his approach,” Snyder said. “And then I think the other thing that’s unique, and I saw it in Atlanta … to have a veteran guy that’s had the success that he’s had still have a passion for the game and a passion to improve, that is unique. And that’s also something for our guys to emulate, and for him to demonstrate, it’s gonna have a positive effect on us over a period of time.”
Korver, meanwhile, continues to work to find his place. It’s been a mixed bag thus far — games of 15 points against the Spurs, and 14 vs. the Hornets, respectively, but also zero last night vs. the Rockets and three against the Heat, though his shooting percentages of 47.8 from the field and 47.0 from deep are improvements upon his numbers with Cavs.
He said he recognizes concepts of Snyder’s offense from Atlanta, but concedes, “He’s renamed everything, so I don’t know any terminology!”
In the practices the Jazz have managed to get in since acquiring him, Korver has made it a point to stick around and get in some extra time and effort trying to acclimate himself. He’s already liking what he’s seen, though.
“The style of play is probably the most different [between the Cavs and Jazz],” he said. “… You come here and it’s just a whole different style of play — a lot more passing, a lot more cutting, a lot more reads, a lot more movement, a lot more energy. So it’s really fun for me. It really is.”
It’s been a lot more fun for everyone, apparently.
THE KORVER EFFECT
Here’s a look at the Jazz’s 3-point shooting in the four games played with Kyle Korver, compared to their averages without him and overall this season:
Game, 3PM-3PA, Pct
Rockets, 8-32, 25.0%
Spurs, 20-33, 60.7%
Heat, 11-33, 33.3%
Hornets, 18-40, 45.0%
With Korver average, 14.3-34.5, 41.3%
Pre-Korver average, 10.0-31.5, 31.9%
Season average, 10.7-32.0, 33.5%
SHARPSHOOTER AT WORK
Kyle Korver has been very hit-and-miss in his first four games with Utah. Here are his scoring and shooting totals from those matchups:
Game, Pts, FGs, 3Ps
Rockets, 0, 0-2, 0-2
Spurs, 15, 5-8, 3-4
Heat, 3, 1-6, 1-5
Hornets, 14, 5-7, 4-6
Averages with Jazz, 8.0, 47.8%, 47.0%
Season averages, 6.8, 46.1%, 46.3%