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.

Michelle Roberts says if you don’t like player movement blame owners, too

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Last summer was one of the wildest offseasons in NBA history, maybe the wildest, and the headline was player empowerment. Anthony Davis pushed his way to the Lakers, Paul George forced his way out of Oklahoma City to go to the Clippers and join Kawhi Leonard, which soon had Russell Westbrook joining his old teammate James Harden in Houston. It led to frustration by some owners and changes in how the NBA will handle tampering.

Except, by choice is not how most players change teams. While AD or George has the leverage to make a power play — because of their exceptional talent — most of the time players are traded because the owner/team has all the power and can uproot players for whatever reason (basketball reasons sometimes, saving money other times). The stars have free agent options, rotation players much less so in that system.

Michelle Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players’ Association, wants you to remember that it’s not just player power that has led to the increase in player movement, as she told Mark Spears of The Undefeated.

Michele Roberts, told The Undefeated that she believes there is a “double standard” between how stars are viewed when they decide to move on compared with when franchises choose to make a major transaction, adding that team owners “continue to view players as property.”

“If you want to be critical of one, be critical of both,” Roberts said from the NBPA’s offices in Manhattan. “Those of us who made decisions to move, it’s really astounding to even consider what it feels like to be told in the middle of your life you are going to have to move. But that’s the business we’re in. …

“No one seems to spend a lot of time thinking about what it’s like to make those kinds of moves completely involuntarily. You volunteer to play or not play. But, yeah, if it’s still the case that if you think you’ve got to suck it up, player, then, hell, you’ve got to suck it up, team.”

She’s right. From Chris Paul to Blake Griffin, plenty of big stars have been moved against their will. The door swings both ways, but in those cases most fans tended to see why and like what the teams did. Those fans like it less when players do the same thing.

There’s also a classic labor vs. management angle to all this, which has political overtones.

For my money, how one views player movement tends to be part generational and part where you live.

Older fans remember days — or, at least think they remember days — when players stayed with teams for much or all of their career. It’s understandable, fans form a bond with players and want them to stay… while they’re still good and useful, after that fans beg ownership to get the “dead weight off the books.” Players before the late 1980s stayed with teams because they didn’t have a choice — for Bill Russell in the 60s or Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the 1980s, free agency was not an option. And for every Kobe Bryant that did stay with a team, there were a lot more Wilts and Shaqs, who were traded several times and played with multiple teams.

Younger fans (generally, nothing is universal) are okay with the player movement, sometimes are more fans of a player than a team, and like the action and buzz of all the trades.

Location matters because if you’re in Oklahoma City there’s reason to not like what George did and the era of player empowerment. New Orleans fans can feel the same way (although part of that case is the “supermax” contract that owners wanted but really forced up the timeline on teams and players to make a decision on paying stars). But fans in Los Angeles or wherever players ultimately choose to go will feel differently. Fans want what’s best for their team, but there is no way in the star culture of the NBA to wash away the lure of big markets or of teaming up with another elite player.

The NBA dynamic is different from the NFL’s (for now), but it’s not changing. LeBron James helped usher in an era of player empowerment and it’s the new reality for the NBA, one the best franchises will adapt to rather than fight.

Evan Fournier says that Frank Ntilikina just ‘needs a real opportunity’

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New York Knicks fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for recently. The team traded away Kristaps Porzingis, who is thought to be the franchise cornerstone. Now they move forward with a young core, RJ Barrett, and tons of cap space.

So what does that mean for players who have been around in the Big Apple like Frank Ntilikina?

Based on how Ntilikina played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup for France this year, things might be looking up.

Ntilikina’s statistics weren’t eye-popping, but he was seen as a very solid player in a backcourt that helped propel France to the bronze medal in China.

To that end, fellow countrymen Evan Fournier thinks that all Ntilikina needs is a chance to shine.

Via Twitter:

Ntilikina’s season last year was marred by injuries, and he played in just 43 games. Still, he has the physical tools to be a useful NBA player, and he’s just 21 years old. With the surprisingly low-pressure situation in New York, it’s possible that extended time playing in the World Cup could help aid what Ntilikina is able to produce next season for the Knicks.

Report: Lakers receive DeMarcus Cousins disabled-player exception

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A chance at a championship. LeBron James. Anthony Davis. The Los Angeles market. Great weather.

The Lakers can offer plenty to anyone who gets bought out this season.

Now, the Lakers – who lost DeMarcus Cousins to a torn ACL – get a mechanism to offer post-buyout players more money.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The exception holds little value presently. It’s worth less than a full-season minimum salary for anyone with more than four years experience.

But minimum-salary and mid-level exceptions decline throughout the season. This exception does not.

So, on March 1, a team with only a minimum slot available can offer a free agent just between $233,459 and $666,546 (depending on the player’s experience level). The Lakers can offer $1.75 million.

This means an NBA-appointed doctor ruled Cousins is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15. Given that prognosis, the Lakers could open a roster spot by waiving Cousins, who’s on a one-year deal and facing a domestic-violence charge. They’d still keep the exception.

If Cousins can return more quickly than expected, he’d be eligible to play, whether or not the Lakers use the exception.

Damian Lillard says he plans to play for Team USA in 2020 Olympics

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Stephen Curry said he wants to play for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics.

He isn’t the only star point guard eager for Tokyo.

Damian Lillard, via James McKern of news.com.au:

“I plan on being a part of that. I plan on playing,” Lillard said

Though neither Curry nor Lillard played for Team USA in this year’s World Cup, there’s a potentially large difference: Curry never agreed to play. Lillard did then withdrew. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo indicated particular scorn for players who decommitted.

Of course, Colangelo also wants to win. That might require swallowing his pride and accepting players who withdrew this year. He has talked tough in the past about players who didn’t show his desired devotion to USA Basketball. Lillard got cut in 2014 then missed the 2016 Olympics citing injury. It can be difficult to determine which absences Colangelo forgives.

One factor working against Lillard: The Americans’ point guard pool is deep. Curry rates higher. Kemba Walker earned respect by playing in the World Cup. James Harden (who also withdrew from the World Cup) and Kyrie Irving also factor.

I expect Colangelo to operate on a sliding scale: The better the player, the less prior commitment to USA Basketball necessary. Lillard is an excellent player. We’ll see how far that gets him.

And whether he’ll even want to play next year. The reasons for playing – pride of representing your country, prestige marketing opportunities – are more obvious now. The reasons not to play – injury, fatigue, personal commitments – are more likely to emerge closer to the Games.