In light of the Jazz's thrilling overtime victory in Denver last night, which featured 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting from one Kyle Korver, the time seems ripe to point out that I can be incredibly dumb sometimes.
Credit several loyal CelticsBlog readers for disputing me right then, as when the Jazz traded for Kyle Korver a month ago, I actually wrote the following:
Whatever happened between Giricek and coach Jerry Sloan thus far this season made the guard enough of a pariah that Utah was desperate to dump him and wound up making a foolish move in the process. Korver is a somewhat more productive player than Giricek, but he plays a similar game, liking to shoot and doing little else. Once upon a time, he was expected to amount to a bigger part of the Sixers' future than he ever did while he was there, and now he moves to a team where he will play back-up minutes at the two-guard spot (where Ronnie Brewer continues to emerge) and fail to provide the defense the team so desperately needs at that position. He represents a major fiscal downgrade from Utah's situation with Giricek, and just to bring him to town, the Jazz had to concede a future first-round pick as well. To be truthful, this sounds like a very steep price to pay simply to dump a falling-out-of-the-rotation player with little clubhouse influence who feuded with his coach. Especially with that player's contract coming off the books at season's end. Undoubtedly, the Jazz have been cold as of late and probably felt like some sort of shake-up was in order, but Kyle Korver doesn't ring a real bell as the type of guy who makes enough of an impact to help right the ship.
To those of you quietly thinking to yourselves, "Nice job, dope," right on! We'll be filing that masterpiece safely in my Department of Columns That Never Actually Happened. At least as far as you know.
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When I spoke with Money from the Parking Lot's Bill Powell last night, my comment was, "In their last jillion and two games, the Jazz are checking in at a solid jillion and two."
In terms of the numbers that would be less likely thann "a jillion" to make my two long-time math teacher parents cringe, at the time of the Korver deal in the final week of December, the once-hot Jazz had fallen back to the .500 mark at 16-16 on the season. Since then, the Jazz have gone on a 16-2 run, and last night's win in the high altitudes was their tenth in a row.
Of course, this isn't to suggest that the entirety of Utah's success has been predicated on the addition of a shooter off the bench. Certainly, health on the team has improved, and a variety of this team's key cogs have upped their performances, namely stud point guard Deron Williams. Gordan Giricek's departure likely has helped chemistry as well.
But it would be a grave mistake to underestimate Korver's impact, as I clearly did back in December. He has provided a legitimate perimeter threat off the bench for this team, adding both some scoring energy for the second unit and a player to stretch the floor on a team desperately in need of one. When teams were going to zones against Utah's penetration-based offense, Korver forced them back to man with his hot hand, and he has been continuously hot through his first month with the team. The man is shooting 40 percent from deep (just a shade under his career average of 40.8) as a member of the Jazz, but he is also shooting 49.2 percent from the field, as opposed to 42.2 for his career and 39.6 this season with Philadelphia. Shooting 49 percent from the field is fairly solid for nearly anyone in the game. For a player who takes more than 52 percent of his shots from behind the arc, it's simply incredible.
Ultimately, the Jazz certainly haven't won 16 of 18 simply because of Kyle Korver's presence, and chances are that they won't be playing .889 ball for the duration of the season. But he has filled a long-time need for this team, opened the floor for the likes of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer and unquestionably been a steadying factor thus far.
In short, in his first month in Utah, Kyle Korver has been everything I didn't think he would be. And it has worked out great for the boys from the City of the Salt Lake. Well played, sir.