Kyle Korver has been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, giving them more shooting. What does this mean for the Golden State Warriors?
The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers will probably face off in the NBA Finals for the third straight year. The two teams are locked in an arms race that started when LeBron James returned to Cleveland and traded away Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love.
Each team has one title under their belt. The Warriors lost in the Finals then added Kevin Durant to the mix. After bringing most of their championship roster back, the Cavs were forced into action after J.R. Smith went down with an injury.
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Smith’s shooting really helps space the floor for James and Kyrie Irving. Losing the player with the 14th most three-point field goals made in NBA history is, obviously, a big loss. That blow is softened, though, when you sign the eighth best three-point shooter ever.
The Cavaliers have traded for sharpshooter Kyle Korver. While the trade isn’t official yet, it’s just a matter of time before it’s completed according to various reports. The details are still being worked out, but it looks like Cleveland will be sending Mike Dunleavy Jr. and a pick to Atlanta with Mo Williams’ possibly thrown in as well.
Korver, an All-Star in 2015, has been one of the best three-point shooters in the league for years now. This year, he’s averaging 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 28 minutes per game. He’s shooting a respectable 40.9 percent from beyond the arc and 44.1 percent from the field.
Adding Korver is a really good move especially when you take into consideration the fact that Cleveland just committed a robbery. The Cavaliers are preparing for June and need all the help they can get against the Warriors. What does this trade mean for Golden State?
To be honest, I don’t know. There are valid arguments that this makes Cleveland the scariest team in the league and there are equally as valid arguments that say this doesn’t do much and can even hurt them. We can’t really make a definitive statement until Korver suits up in the wine and gold.
At minimum, the Cavaliers just got deeper. Bringing Korver (or even Smith, when he returns) off the bench is a huge weapon to have. Having a guy who can get hot and carry an offense for stretches can really relieve pressure off James and Irving. It also ensures that there is an elite shooting threat on the floor at all times.
At best, Korver unlocks this offense. A small ball lineup with Irving, Smith, Korver, James, and Kevin Love or Channing Frye is a scary thought for a defense. There are shooters all over giving James more room to drive than he’s ever had.
In their Christmas Day loss, Golden State gave up a lot of open looks to Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson. Some of those–particularly to Shumpert–were probably by design. Some of those, however, came as a result of good execution. If the Warriors can’t figure out how to defend James and Irving, speed up their rotations, and close out more effectively, then Korver will be getting those wide open attempts (which he shoots 49 percent on, according to NBA Stats).
Of course, there’s two sides to the ball and the Warriors could exploit Cleveland on that end. Korver has never been known as a defensive specialist and, at age 35, is having one of his worst seasons on that end. It would be up to Andre Iguodala to punish the Cavs on that end.
While the Warriors’ top four or five are better than the Cavaliers’ top four or five guys, Korver might make them deeper. He seems like he would fit in nicely alongside James and the rest of the team. This trade puts the pressure on the Warriors.
Golden State should explore all options. While they don’t have a lot to offer and it’s unlikely a team would want to help them, the Cavs did just rob the Hawks so, as Kevin Garnett would say, anything is possible. They have an awful lot of bigs that don’t really do much that they could potentially move for a cheap rental.
The Warriors need to go after shooting. They have a backup point guard that won’t shoot threes and a backup small forward that can’t shoot threes. Any kind of cheap floor spacing 3-and-D type of player the becomes available should at least warrant a curious phone call from Bob Myers.
While a team with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant probably will never be the underdogs, they need to start playing like it. The champs got better. The Warriors can’t just cruise to a title; they’re going to need to fight for it.