Kyle Korver’s importance as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers is often understated. Many forget that just a few short years ago, Kyle was the main All-Star behind a 60-22 Atlanta Hawks team to finish 1st in the Eastern Conference solely in the way of King James’ first run to the finals since coming back to Cleveland. You might remember that LeBron and the Cavs went on to dismantle this Hawks team, but what you may not remember is exactly why it was so much easier than people thought it would end up being.
In Game 2, eventual Cleveland finals hero Matthew Dellavedova, “the Curry stopper” would make the play that many outside sources and NBA players would point to as evidence of being a dirty player. That play was the play that took out Eastern Conference All-Star Kyle Korver for the rest of that series. After Kyle went down, the Hawks, being a system offense, were out of their 3-point floor spacing offensive threat who that year was shooting over 49% from behind the arc and averaging three made 3-pointers a game.
Kyle made that offense work.
Why is this important to what Kyle is in Cleveland?
Understand that the Cavs offense is always run through LeBron James. What many seem to forget is that all of these pieces around LeBron are not equals in an offense. They are all built as ancillary pieces to improve the performance of LeBron & thus, the offense. This is not necessarily a bad thing but when Kyle Korver seems to go dormant for a night or two its often for the benefit of the offense and LeBron James.
Kyle Korver, being such a dangerous knockdown three-point shooter, standing in the corner forces the help-side defense against LeBron James to make a decision. That defender in a split second or based off of their team’s defensive gameplan must either stay home in the corner guarding Kyle or leave him to try to stop LeBron from getting an easy layup at the rim. Where the toughness in that decision lies is whether to leave one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time wide open in the corner along with possibly the best passer of all time holding the ball, or to allow one of the best players in the history of the game an easy look at the rim.
The point is when Kyle does not show up big in the stat sheet it doesn’t mean that his role is not being fulfilled. His role on this Cavs team is to be beyond deadly when his number is called. When teams think that they have a better chance at defending the Cavs without a lot of doubling or help onto LeBron you might see a Kyle with only two or three points, but what you will also likely see is a LeBron with 40+ points.
On the other side of the coin, LeBron is more than happy to throw the ball to a wide-open Korver because he will rain in threes like a monsoon all night long and will take a 25ish point game with 14 assists. Kyle can always be killer from behind the arc if the system calls for such a thing; However, when the system is LeBron James, things are different. Regardless of Kyle’s showings in the stat sheet, never underestimate his importance to the Cavs, to the offense and to LeBron James.