Utah Jazz guard Kyle Korver, right, shoots next to Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
SALT LAKE CITY — A recent sponsored Facebook post from the Utah Jazz’s official account shows a slow-motion video of Kyle Korver looking at a camera while warming up before a game, with the speed of it giving a dreamy effect.
The caption reads, “Dunks. Threes. Blocks. Kyle Korver. We’ve got everything you’d ever want in a Jazz game.”
It makes sense the Jazz would market Korver in this way in his second stint with the team after getting traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of November. After all, he was quite a heartthrob during his first go-round in Utah from 2007-2010.
But it also speaks to Korver’s play on the court. Now in his 16th season in the NBA, Korver has never had the athleticism of a Donovan Mitchell or the ability to change the game defensively like Rudy Gobert (to be sure, few players do), but he’s one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in league history, and since joining the Jazz Nov. 30, he’s been a boon to a Utah offense that desperately needs what he can offer.
While 3-point shooting is a rather noisy statistic and not all of the Jazz’s recent success can be attributed to Korver, there’s no denying that the team has shot better from beyond the arc since the Creighton product’s arrival. From the beginning of the season through Nov. 29, Utah was 10th in the NBA in 3-point attempts but just 18th in made attempts and 28th in percentage.
Since Nov. 30, the Jazz are 11tth in attempts per game (although the number has risen from 31.5 to 33.2), sixth in makes and fifth in percentage, a rather astounding jump. For his part, Korver is 32 of 79 from distance in 15 games.
Observationally, Korver has altered the way Utah plays offensively. He’s the Jazz’s best mover without the basketball, and he needs virtually no space to get his shot off, factors which allow head coach Quin Snyder to use his own creativity to find ways to get him shots.
“Since I have come on, it is a lot of me just trying to find my spot and be comfortable with how we try to play,” Korver said on Saturday night after he scored all 15 of his points via the 3-ball (5-of-8 total) as Utah rolled over the New York Knicks 129-97.
To be clear, it’s not as if Korver has been lights out every night, as he’s a combined 1-of-10 from distance in two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and went just 1-of-7 from 3 against the Orlando Magic on Dec. 15 in Mexico City.
That being said, Korver has become somewhat of a bellwether for the Jazz. The team is 7-1 when he has made two or more 3-pointers in a game and 1-6 when he has made one or none.
“Forget about it,” he said a few weeks ago of his approach after having a bad shooting game. “For me, it’s usually about my body more than about my shooting.”
After being home for eight days, their longest stretch of the season in Salt Lake City thus far, the Jazz will be back out on the road for the next week, beginning a tough four-game Eastern Conference trip Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors entered Monday night’s schedule a half game back of the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the NBA. After Tuesday’s game, there will be a reunion for Korver and former Jazzman Alec Burks on Friday as Utah faces the Cavaliers. The Jazz will then play the Detroit Pistons on Saturday and close the trip against the Bucks next Monday.
At that juncture, Utah will be at the halfway point of its regular season, and its challenging schedule will begin to ease. The Jazz will begin a four-game homestand on Jan. 9 against the Magic and play 25 of their last 41 games in all at Vivint Arena.