Kyle Korver has been the best shooter in the NBA since being traded to Cleveland. In just 19 games, he is nearly posting a 50/50/90 (51/51/88) shooting line. As the Cavs enter the All-Star Break, should fans expect Korver to slow down or are his absurd shooting numbers sustainable?
Korver’s expert marksmanship from distance has been on full display since joining the Cavs. He is shooting an otherworldly 58.8% on corner 3s, including 63.6% from the right corner. As someone who prefers to shoot the ball coming to his right, Korver has taken 56% of his threes from the right side of the floor.
JUST LET IT FLY
In his 19 games as a Cavalier, it has not mattered how Kyle Korver is shooting the ball. Guarded, unguarded, off the catch, off the dribble—they are all going in at ridiculous rates.
The first takeaway from these numbers is that catch and shoot opportunities make up nearly 10% more of Korver’s plays than in his last two seasons with Atlanta. While the distribution between guarded and unguarded catch and shoot remains the same, Korver has essentially traded one dribble jumper per game for another catch and shoot opportunity.
When he came to Cleveland, many speculated that Korver would see a vast increase in the number of open shots he attempted. So far that has not been the case. Rather, it has been his performance on guarded catch and shoot jumpers that has vaulted the veteran into unmatched territory.
One theory for the nearly 17% boost is an old shooter’s adage: rhythm.
When you start to get more of these looks:
It becomes easier to knock down shots like this:
Whatever the case may be, Korver’s 72.6 eFG% on guarded catch and shoot jumpers ranks first in the NBA, slightly leading Otto Porter (70.8 eFG%) and a huge gap over old friend Dion Waiters (64.1 eFG%) in third place.
HOW ARE THE CAVS USING KORVER?
The Cavs have not tried to reinvent the wheel when it comes to using Korver. Instead, they’ve largely stuck to what Korver does best—with some slight alterations.
The most significant change the Cavs have made is bringing Korver off even more off-ball screens than he used in Atlanta. Here’s an example of a common action for Korver in Cleveland:
Another slight tweak here—88.1% of Korver’s shots off screens have come moving to his right compared to 74.1% this year in Atlanta and 76.2% the year before.
Another area in which Korver has seen an uptick in usage is transition opportunities.
Many have noted that the combination of LeBron James with a full head of steam and Korver spotting up behind the arc leaves defenders—like Zach Lavine here—in a no-win situation. The Cavs have used transition to create open jumpers for the sharpshooter, whether in the corner like above or as a trailer on the wing.
Following a half-season as the best spot up shooter in the NBA in Atlanta, Korver has only expanded his dominance as a member of the Cavs. He posted a league-leading 79.9 eFG% on spot up opportunities with the Hawks this year.
With the Cavs? A laughable 85.4 eFG%. That’s a 14% lead over second-place Otto Porter—who is having quite the shooting season in his own right.
While Korver has been on fire in all spot up situations, plays like the one above against the Pacers have been legitimately unguardable. He’s shooting a perfect 7-7 on dribble jumpers in spot up situations.
IS IT SUSTAINABLE?
Watch any Cavs game and it is obvious why David Griffin made the move to acquire Kyle Korver. But it would be hard to envision that even the front office could have predicted this kind of success.
After a few rough games to open his tenure, Korver has added yet another dimension to an already lethal Cavs offense. When he gets in the zone like this, defenses might as well pack their bags and go home.
Whether this run is sustainable is a difficult question to answer. On one hand, the Cavs have clearly placed Korver in his comfort zone by running him off screens and have created open looks in the process. On the other, it is hard to imagine anyone sustaining 52.4% shooting on guarded catch and shoot jumpers.
But even if those numbers fall back to earth just a bit, this much is clear: the Cavs have created yet another matchup problem on offense. In the month of February alone, they have posted an absurd 121.8 oRTG on 63.7 TS%—both easily tops in the league.
Korver’s long range bombs and the pressure he puts on the defense by his presence alone have been a large part of that success.
While he may not always hit shots like the one above, when he’s hot, the Cavs are nearly impossible to beat.