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.

Watch Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard drain game-winning 3 to beat Lakers

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LeBron James and Anthony Davis were on the court together (and combined for 46 points and 20 rebounds). Russell Westbrook continued to thrive as a sixth man with 24 points.

But the biggest shot of the night belonged to Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard — a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.

It was a well-designed play and when Westbrook chased and doubled Bennedict Mathurin in the corner it left the screen setter, Myles Turner, wide open for a clean look at a 3 — but he hit the front of the rim. The long rebound caromed out, Tyrese Haliburton grabbed it and tried to create, but then he saw Nembhard wide open and kicked him the rock.

Ballgame.

The Pacers split their two games in Los Angeles at the start of a seven-game road trip through the West that will test the surprising Pacers.

For the Lakers… they have some hard decisions to make coming up.

Karl-Anthony Towns helped off court after non-contact calf injury

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Hopefully this is not as bad as it looks.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony was trying to run back upcourt and went to the ground — without contact — grabbing his knee and calf. He had to be helped off the court.

The Timberwolves officially ruled Towns out for the rest of the night with a calf strain.

A right calf strain would be the best possible outcome, but an MRI will provide more details in the next 24 hours. This had the markings of something much worse, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports optimism that Towns avoided something serious.

Towns is averaging 214 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are off this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers, down from 39.3% for his career — as he tries to adjust to playing next to Rudy Gobert, he’s still one of the game’s elite big men.

The Wizards went on to beat the Timberwolves 142-127 behind 41 from Kristaps Porzingis.

Suns promote GM James Jones to to President of Basketball Operations

Phoenix Suns Open Practice
Barry Gossage / NBAE via Getty Images
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James Jones put together the roster that took the Suns to the Finals two seasons ago and had the best record in the NBA last season (64 wins). At 13-6, the Suns sit atop the Western Conference this season.

The Suns have rewarded Jones, giving him the title of President of Basketball Operations on top of GM.

“In the nearly 15 years I have known James, he has excelled in every role he performed, from player to NBPA Treasurer to his roles in our front office, most recently as general manager,” Suns interim Governor Sam Garvin said. “James has the unique ability to create and lead high-performing teams in basketball operations and his commitment to collaborating with our business side, including at the C-level with partners like PayPal and Verizon, is second to none. We are fortunate for his contributions across the organization and this promotion recognizes his commitment to excellence.”

Jones moved into the Suns’ front office in 2017 at the end of a 14-year playing career, then became GM in 2019. The move gives Jones a little more stability during the sale of the franchise. Not that the new owner would come in and fire a successful GM.

“I am grateful for the privilege to work with and support the players, staff and employees of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury,” Jones said in a statement. “The collective efforts of our business and basketball operations have allowed us to provide an amazing atmosphere and best-in-class experience for our fans and community. I remain excited about and dedicated to driving success for our Teams on and off the court.”

Jones has made several moves that set the culture in Phoenix, including hiring Monty Williams as coach then, after an undefeated run in the bubble (that left Phoenix just out of the playoffs), he brought in Chris Paul to take charge at the point.

Report: Leaders in Lakers’ locker room think team ‘only a couple of players away’ from contending

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There’s a sense of optimism around the Lakers: They have won 5-of-6 and are expected to have both Anthony Davis and LeBron James healthy Monday night, plus Russell Westbrook has found a role and comfort level off the bench and other players are settling into roles. They may be 7-11, but it’s early enough there is a sense this could be turned around.

That is echoed by “locker room leaders” who think the team is just a couple of players away from being a contender in the West (where no team has pulled away), reports Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

There is belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room, sources said, that the team is only a couple of players away from turning this group into a legitimate contender. But acquiring the right players could take multiple trades.

Let’s unpack all of this.

• “Leaders in the Lakers’ locker room” means LeBron and Davis (both repped by Rich Paul). Let’s not pretend it’s anything else.

• If the Lakers don’t make a move to significantly upgrade the roster, how unhappy will those leaders become? How disruptive would that be?

• It is no coincidence that McMenamin’s report comes the day the Lakers face the Pacers, a team they went deep into conversations with this summer on a Myles Turner/Buddy Hield trade, but Los Angeles GM Rob Pelinka ultimately would not put both available Lakers’ first-round picks (2027 and 2029) in the deal and it fell apart. Turner said the Lakers should “take a hard look” at trading for him. The thing is, the Pacers are now 11-8, not tanking for Victor Wembanyama but instead thinking playoffs, so are they going to trade their elite rim protector and sharpshooter away? Not likely. At least not without an overwhelming offer, and the Lakers’ two picks may not get there anymore.

• While Westbrook has found a comfort level coming off the bench (and not sharing the court as much with LeBron), he is still a $47.1 million contract that no team is trading for without sweeteners. To use NBA parlance, he is still a negative value contract, even if it feels less negative than a month ago.

• Are the Lakers really a couple of players away from contending? While they have won 5-of-6, three of those five wins came against the tanking Spurs, the others were against the so-injured-they-might-as-well-be-tanking Pistons, and the Nets before Kyrie Irving returned. The Lakers did what they needed to do and thrived in a soft part of the schedule, but that schedule is about to turn and give the Lakers a reality check on where they really stand. After the Pacers, it’s the Trail Blazers (likely still without Damian Lillard), then an East Coast road trip that includes the Bucks, Cavaliers, Raptors and 76ers. The next couple of weeks will be a better marker for where the Lakers stand, and if they can build off of the past couple of weeks.