The Cleveland Cavaliers recently aquired veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver in a trade deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Now, two games into his stint with the NBA’s defending champions, what Korver’s role will be is still a bit unclear.
In his first two games with the Cavs, Korver has scored just four points (2-10 from the field, 0-5 from the three-point line) in 43 minutes of playing time. However, the fact that Korver hasn’t had an official practice with his new team should be taken into account. In fact, the Cavs haven’t been able to formally practice since last week and aren’t scheduled to until Sunday.
Despite his unimpressive start (albeit a small sample size), head coach Tyronn Lue is focused on getting Korver more playing time to further acclimate the 6’7″ swingman with Cleveland’s ‘Big Three’ of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. So far, Korver has only logged roughly five minutes of on-court action with all three members of the trio.
On Wednesday, Lue spoke optimistically to members of the media with regards to the potential impact Korver might have while he’s on the floor with the starting rotation. Joe Vardon of www.cleveland.com recants Lue’s quotes in his recent article:
“When I get a chance to kind of get the rotations down of how I’m going to play these guys together, I think it’s going to be really good for us,” Lue said Wednesday.
Vardon also writes that the Cavs will be looking to play Korver with James, Love, and Irving with increased frequency.
“The Cavs are actively figuring how best to use Korver, and plan to use him differently than we’ve seen this week. They want him on the court with the Big 3 more often. He’s played just eight minutes with James and Irving, and seven with James and Love,” sources told www.cleveland.com.
One possible consequence of Korver assuming a starting role would be DeAndre Liggins stepping down to Cleveland’s second unit. Coach Lue inserted Liggins into the starting lineup after J.R. Smith suffered a fractured right thumb in December, and for the most part, Liggins has played well in Smith’s absence – especially on the defensive end of the floor. Coach Lue has previously stated that he likes the way Liggins guards opposing point guards, so taking him out of the starting lineup could be a difficult decision.
After Cleveland’s loss the the Portland Trail Blazers last night inside The Moda Center (102-86), Coach Lue spoke highly of Liggins’ defensive effort on Damian Lillard.
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“Liggs (Liggins) is giving us, defensively, I mean he completely took Lillard out of the game defensively,” Lue said Wednesday night. “Being into him, we showed, we blitzed. We did a good job of containing him and offensively just got to be able to knock down some shots.”
So far this season, Liggins is averaging 3.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assist. Those aren’t the most appealing numbers, but it truly is defensive prowess which makes Liggins such an appealing player. In his 30 appearances with the Cavaliers this year, Liggins has tallied 28 steals and 11 blocks.
Before his trade to Cleveland, Korver, 35, averaged 9.5 points in 28 minutes for the Hawks (44% from the field and 41% from three-point range). Korver is well-known throughout the NBA as one of the best shooters to ever dribble a basketball. The former Creighton Blue Jay stand-out is ranked eighth on the NBA’s all-time leading three-point field goals made list (1,952).
If Lue can indeed manage to further familiarize Korver with ‘The Big Three’ (and the playbook), the Cavs could become even more of a threat from the perimeter.