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Kyle Korver shouldn’t have to be playing this well

Korver has been an important piece this season, but that’s exactly part of the problem

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Kyle Korver is playing far beyond what has typically been expected of him. His lethal shooting stroke is obvious and he hasn’t skipped a beat this season. He’s never been a go-to scorer, rather an off-ball threat that must be over-cautiously contained. However, this season, Korver is being forced to perform outside of his comfort zone. And he’s been the Cavaliers second best player because of it.

Korver’s stats don’t show any monumental improvement (except for his eFG%, which leads the league at 71.2), as his 10.9 points per game are right at what he’s averaged throughout his career, but his in-game impact is what has been immeasurable. He’s shooting 53.4 percent from the field and his astonishingly normal 47.3 percent from three on 5.5 attempts per game has been crucial for a Cavaliers’ team shooting far-below their norm. But that isn’t where Korver’s game has stopped his season.

What we’ve seen from Korver this season - and more so in the team’s most recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks - is his willingness to create the offense. Korver is known as someone who lets the offense come to him. He works around screens, cuts to the basket, and can shoot the ball from a hand-off faster than pretty much anyone in history, but he’s seemingly added to his game this season. Or, at least, he’s being forced to. Korver has been much more active with the ball in his hands. He’s now looking to create the offense next to LeBron James and they’ve been rather efficient when they play together. When both Korver and LeBron are in the game, the team averages 1.306 points per possession with a true shooting percentage of 65.9 compared to just 1.065 points per possession and a true shooting percentage of 54.3 when Korver is off the floor, per He’s still playing much like the Korver were used to, but he wants to attack the basket, too.

Korver’s primary goal is still to catch-and-shoot, but his added aggressiveness during the Cavaliers times of need has provided a shot of energy when all seems lost (even though often times it’s still for nothing, *see losses to Hawks and Knicks*). This aggressiveness has translated into confidence and his shot selection proves it. It doesn’t matter when he gets the ball or how he does, but he’s looking to create or shoot before the ball even touches his fingertips.

He’s becoming the focal point of the offense for key stretches during games, but that’s exactly one of the seemingly endless reasons the Cavaliers are failing through their first 10 games. When the Cavs are down in close games, they rely almost solely on Korver (and LeBron) to pick up the slack. If he’s hitting - and he has been - then the team has had a chance. In the losses against the Brooklyn Nets and the most recent one against the Atlanta Hawks, Korver has had to fire up three after three just for the game to be close in the end. Four of Korver’s five made threes against the Nets came in the fourth quarter. All five of his made threes against the Hawks came in the fourth quarter. Doing all he could has still not been enough.

So yes, Korver is playing incredibly well right now and it’s not insane to say he’s been the Cavaliers second best player to start the season. But, this can’t continue if the team wants to succeed moving forward. Korver’s ability to light teams up in the matter of seconds is being used at all the wrong times. His effort during these comeback attempts have ultimately been for nothing. Korver is an elite shooter, still one of the best in the league and in NBA history and extending those skills throughout an entire game would only benefit the Cavaliers. Korver is obviously clicking right now and it’s making his defensive liability seem less important. However, when wondering why the Cavaliers have been so bad this season, we can point to Korver.

Not because he hasn’t been playing well, but because, at 36 years old, Korver should not be the team’s most efficient player not named LeBron James. If the team has to rely on Korver to put up this type of production for an entire season, things will only get worse before they get better.