Leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers roster had plenty of deficiencies. The team needed shooting, playmaking, defense, wing depth, guard depth, good players, players that weren’t on $64 million contracts, LeBron James and Cap Space (although it’s unclear what position cap space will play).
While it was almost certain that Nick Young would opt out of his player option, thus losing the best shooter on the team, Lakers fans did not expect the new front office to trade the Lakers’ best playmaker and second best shooter in D’Angelo Russell right before the draft.
Now the Lakers have an even larger need for shooting, playmaking and guard depth going into the draft than previously thought. Sure, they drafted Lonzo Ball, who is a fantastic shooter in his own right and an even better playmaker, but they still have a lot of holes in their roster and a lot of skill sets needed.
The front office clearly wants to preserve cap space for the 2018 offseason when both Paul George and LeBron James are free agents, but they still need to sign good role players to fill some holes for the upcoming season. The only cap preserving options are short-term, cheap deals. As previously stated, the Lakers have a lot of holes, but the two biggest ones are shooting and defense. There aren’t a ton of free agents willing to take a one-year deal who can shoot and play defense, but there are guys who can provide at least one of those. One of the prime candidates is Kyle Korver.
Korver was once a legitimate 3-and-D wing when he was younger, but now just does the 3 and does it well. He’s only shot below 40 percent from beyond the arc once in the past eight years and even shot over 50 percent from thee in 2010.
Since then he’s flirted with shooting over 50 percent from three multiple times and just last season he shot 45 percent. At this point he is well known to be a great shooter, but there is more to him than just good shooting. He’s also incredibly efficient.
In the ever-evolving NBA, three point shooting has become valuable by the minute so it should be a known fact that three pointers are more valuable than two point shots. Since 2012, 68 percent of Korver’s field goal attempts have been from beyond the arc and he had a TS% of 65 percent last season with both Atlanta and Cleveland.
To go along with high efficiency, he’s also never been a high usage player with his USG% never going higher than 15.2 in the past five seasons. So he is the epitome of a low usage, high efficiency role player that the Lakers desperately need.
With cap space for 2018 and beyond being kept sacred and reserved for stars, the Lakers won’t be able to make long term commitments with starter level players. At 36 years old, Korver won’t command a contract that is either ridiculously long or ridiculously expensive, so the Lakers would be able to sign him while maintaining that sacred cap space that they traded Russell for (I still don’t know what position cap space is playing. Can he play defense?)
Instead of the Russell/Ball backcourt that we dreamed of, the Lakers are stuck with the idea of Jordan Clarkson starting at shooting guard. While he’s a decent role player, I do not want a non-shooter in the starting backcourt and Korver would presumably start or get starting minutes.
Last season in Atlanta and Cleveland, Korver averaged only 10/2.8/1.6. He wasn’t a fantastic rebounder nor a playmaker. He didn’t even score that much or get to the line, but that won’t be his role with the Lakers.
Fans often hear about how Steph Curry bends defenses just by being on the court as his shooting threat dramatically changes how defenses defend the Warriors. Now, Korver isn’t Steph and isn’t the kind of shooter he is, but the effect is similar. Korver’s role is not to be an all-star wing, but to be that three point threat that is constantly making teams anxious.
At UCLA, Lonzo Ball turned decent or good shooters into great and elite shooters. With Ball at the point, Korver would be fed great passes to capitalize on his elite shooting and the threat of his shot will scare opposing teams more than Clarkson or Nwaba could. Korver could be the knock down shooting threat that the Lakers are lacking and the Lakers should do everything they can to sign him to a short-term deal.