Video Breakdown: How Kyle Korver helps LeBron James and the Cavaliers

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Kyle Korver is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers finalized the deal on Saturday, sending the sharp-shooting wing to Ohio in exchange for Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, and a protected first round pick.

Korver is added firepower for the 2016 NBA Champions, who are hoping to repeat and stay their ground against the Golden State Warriors, who added a guy by the name of Kevin Durant this offseason.

On today’s NBA Playbook, we’re taking a look at what Korver does best and how LeBron James and the Cavaliers will integrate him into their already impressive offense.

Watch the full video breakdown above or read the text version below.

The Basics

Korver is a great addition for Cleveland’s championship hopes, and the trade should help push the Cavaliers forward. Korver is shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point land this season, and his ability to space the floor is unquestioned.

shotcharts korver

Comparing his shot chart here on the left with the Cavaliers overall team chart on the right, you can see that he takes a high volume and shoots exceptionally well on above the break threes from the left and right sides. Conveniently, that’s already where the Cavs shoot the majority of their 3-pointers from.

From a distribution standpoint, Korver makes a lot of sense. There’s also some similarities between sets the Hawks ran for him and those the Cavaliers already have in their playbook.

The Sets

Atlanta ran a lot of single and double screen sets with Korver starting down in the corner. He rounds the arc off a dribble handoff from a post, and gets a simple shot above the break.

Cleveland runs this same set, as you can see here with Mike Dunleavy down in the corner and Channing Frye as the handoff man.

That kind of movement is likely to be important for Cleveland not just in their set offense, but in transition where they are one of the best teams in the league off the break.

Transition

Because of the gravity of guys like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers shooters can feast in transition.

Look for Korver to get to the wing in transition like he does here, then make that same cut across the arc we saw in the set play above.

Korver should be extremely useful on the break. His quick release, willingness to run to the corners, and understanding about how to use drag screens and find open parts of the floor in secondary transition is going to make the Cavaliers that much harder to cover as LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and even Kevin Love bring the ball up the floor.

Offensive Rebounding Chances

One of my favorite things about this trade is the high basketball IQ the Cavaliers have and how Korver is going to amplify that. Something to watch out for is how much Korver affects the efficiency of Cleveland’s offensive rebounding chances.

If you watch enough tape of Korver, you’ll see him smartly move to the right part of the floor when his team misses, turning extra opportunities into three points.

The Cavaliers are already a good rebounding team, and they like to exploit opportunities similar to the one Korver does above with guys like Kevin Love and Channing Frye. With Korver in the mix, it might be even more critical to keep Cleveland off the offensive glass.

Opening Up the Floor

There’s a lot of talk about all the opportunities the Cavaliers are going to open up for Korver, and that’s correct. But what I’m looking forward to is how Korver opens up space for his teammates.

When you have a multiple-player screen situation like you’ve got going on above, personnel matters. You’ve got three Toronto Raptors defending Frye, Dunleavy, and Iman Shumpert, who are all threats to score from range.

Kyle Lowry calls out a switch, but Terrence Ross is so afraid of Dunleavy going over the pick that he tries to lock and trail. That’s the position Korver will be in for the Cavaliers.

Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam can’t sag off of Frye, but when Shumpert slips the screen because everyone is playing high, it forces the Raptors big man to play help. Of course, that leaves Frye open at the wing, and it all started because nobody wanted to let Dunleavy shoot from deep.

Wrapping Up

Adding Korver to a team that’s already a good offensive and 3-point shooting team is an excellent move for the Cavs, and when JR Smith is back from injury it’s going to be that much better.

Korver makes it so Cleveland’s rotation will always have multiple 3-point threats on the floor, even after substitutions, which in turn will pressure opponent defenses and open things up for everyone.

The trade was a great move, and I’m excited to see the Cavaliers bolster themselves for another championship run.

Already a question, Celtics’ depth issues tested by Hayward injury

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Tonight’s game story was probably always going to be about the Boston Celtics’ wing depth. It still is, I guess, but it reads a lot different now that Gordon Hayward is likely out for the season with a fractured tibia and dislocated left ankle.

Hayward, the biggest free agent prize this offseason, signed with the Celtics over the summer as the team moved in a new direction with Kylie Irving. In doing so, the Celtics leveraged a bit of their wing depth by sending Jae Crowder to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons.

Tuesday’s opening ceremony was supposed to give us a better idea of how the Celtic’ depth would fare against the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart are slated to be a big part of the Boston playoff hopes this year. So too is Marcus Morris once he returns from a knee injury. Of course, that was when we were sure that Hayward would be anchoring the small forward position.

Now, Hayward is out for an undetermined period of time after suffering a catastrophic injury on that fateful alley-oop attempt against LeBron James. With Hayward went Boston’s hopes of a win as the opening matchup of the series went to the Cavaliers, 102–90, albeit with a bit of late excitement as a Irving took the potential game-tying shot as time expired with James guarding him.

Via Twitter:

So here we are, where we originally anticipated to start but with one less star player accounted for. While the Celtics mounted an impressive third quarter comeback, we still don’t have answers to our questions on the Boston depth chart.

It’s true that we saw some impressive play on Tuesday from the guys that were expected to complement Hayward on the way. Brown led the team with 25 points on 11-of-23 shooting in 40 minutes. Likewise, Smart showed some flashes of defensive brilliance even as he went 0-of-4 from 3-point range. Tatum, always expected to contribute the least in his first season, scored 14 points while grabbing 10 rebounds, an impressive double-double in his opening NBA game.

But this still doesn’t account for the fact that the Celtics were outplayed on the wing. The combination of Crowder and JR Smith for Cleveland proved to be too much for Boston to handle when put on the same floor with James. That is to say nothing of Kevin Love‘s performance, which undoubtedly benefited from the defensive rotational differences for the Celtics with Hayward out.

The Cavaliers outflanked Boston on Tuesday despite starting guards Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade combining for 22 points on 24 shots. Crowder himself shot just 3-of-10 from the field, although his contributions elsewhere were obvious. The Cavaliers were able to punch out Boston even as they suffered from subpar performances from major players. No doubt with more time together both sides will solidify, but now without Hayward the young players on the Celtics will have to do much more.

It will be easier for the likes of Crowder, Wade, and Rose to mold around the best player in the NBA than it is for Boston to find a rotation that gets them into the playoffs. And while one game in October won’t tell the story of the season, we had to get a hint of what the Celtics’ young players would look like against top competition. We still got that, and if there is an upside here for Celtics fans it’s that the development of those young players appears to have sparked a flame that should grow all season.

Make no bones about it, the Celtics still have some good players that should be able to shield the younger ones — especially Tatum — from having to shoulder too much of the load. That’s the kind of thing that can stunt the growth of a player. But that doesn’t mean that Celtics fans can’t be disappointed. It was always going to be a stretch to topple the Cavaliers and LeBron in the East, and without Hayward it will be impossible.

From Kyrie Irving to Jae Crowder, no love lost between Celtics and Cavs

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The first night of the NBA is here. Now you can stop pretending that you are going to win your NFL fantasy league and pay attention to something important.

Tuesday night’s opening matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics was of course one of intrigue for many reasons. The teams have new rosters after a trade involving Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder, just to name a few.

The NBA likes to open its seasons with matchups like this, and the crowd at The Q in Cleveland did not disappoint when they saw Irving once more.

There did not appear to be bad blood on the court between LeBron James and Irving, and the two exchanged a friendly fist bump as is customary before the tip.

Via Instagram:

Of course, Cavaliers fans did not hold back once the Celtics won the tip off and Kyrie handled the ball for the first time.

There was also myriad technical fouls, including one on Irving after a timeout and one on Al Horford for clapping at Crowder. The latter gave us this gem:

Is an absolute bummer that the Celtics will be without Gordon Hayward as he recovers from a broken left ankle. But, at least there will be some bad blood remaining between these teams to entertain us over the course of the regular season.

NBA rallies for Gordon Hayward on social media after broken tibia, ankle injury

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Everyone has been waiting for the start of the NBA season, but nobody wanted it to start this way.

During Tuesday’s opening game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward suffered a horrific injury after cutting back door.

Hayward suffered a broken tibia and dislocated left ankle according to the team. Meanwhile, if you want to see video of the injury, you can do so here.

Of course, everyone was waiting in anticipation for Tuesday, including players and not hooping. There was immediate reaction by other NBA players on social media wishing Hayward a speedy recovery.

Via Twitter:

Gordon Hayward breaks tibia, dislocates ankle against Cavs in first game with Celtics

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The Boston Celtics season has taken a turn for the worse.

During Tuesday’s opening game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, new Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward broke his tibia and dislocated his left ankle after landing following a leaping back cut to the basket.

It became immediately apparent to those in the arena, and the broadcast angle of the left leg injury was not pretty.

Just be warned here, the resulting photo and media is pretty disgusting. I let out a big yell when I saw it live, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Via TNT:

Hayward stayed in the locker rooms at The Q until halftime, where presumably his teammates had some words of kindness for him. He was then taken away from the arena and will reportedly head back to Boston instead of seeking treatment at a hospital in Ohio.

This is just the most awful way to start the NBA season, for all of us. Get well soon, Gordon.