Using Kyle Korver as Ray Allen is clever

After making the most obnoxious title to a blog ever, I want to talk about why this is such a good idea. After all, each year a new idea comes up that has fan trimbling of excitement (Tyrus Thomas taking jumpshots, anyone?).

But this is legit cause for optimism. In the NBA, perception is often far away from reality. For example, Joakim Noah and Anderson Varejao does not play the same way, just because they have long fluffy hair. Another example, which is the entirely point of this thread, is Kyle Korver and the idea that he's just a spot-up shooter.

While Korver is an excellent spot-up shooter, he's always been able to dribble his way into a shot as well as move without the basketball. Surprinsingly, head coach Tom Thibodeau is the first coach to actively try running plays for Korver that requires these abilities. At age 29, Korver will have the most responsibility he's ever had offensively in his career. So far, it looks like the right call. Yes, averaging 16.3 points in just over 24 minutes per night in preseason means as much as me calling Jessica Alba in an attempt to talk her into marrying me. In other words, no one takes it seriously.

But what cannot be ignored here is how Thibodeau has used Korver. Not only has he made him run off back screens, curls and let him cut. He's also given him freedom to run a play which Richard Hamilton from Detroit found a lot of success with. Immediately after coming off a hard back screen, and arriving at the baseline of either side, Korver receives the ball and the post player makes a hard cut towards the basket. Hamilton made this play famous, since the defensive attention directed at him, frequently left Ben Wallace open for alley-oops. So not only is Korver now in scoring position, he's also in a position to be a playmaker. So far, not much has been made of that play, mostly because Carlos Boozer has been injured, and the gelling process is still active. But that's a play the Bulls can go to in the regular season. There are very few ways to defend it, all of which requires a double-team.

Arh, the double-team. The most beautiful word for an unselfish team that passes well. Korver will have the following options off that baseline cut:

- Shoot
- Hit the cutter
- Make an entry pass to Boozer for a set play

Realistically, this play can involve as many as three players. Deng can make a strong cut towards the basket using a V-cut. Boozer can fight for position, and Korver can decide between the three previously mentioned options. Having several ways to execute one play gives a team the element of surprise, and it often develops a fear of throwing out their big man defenders from the basket.

Assuming Luol Deng continues to shoot this well from three-point range, the play can also be used with him moving without the ball. The downside to this is the fact that he doesn't have the same quick release that Korver does, which decreases the time-frame of executing such a play.

As for the Ray Allen part, there is simply no denying that Allen's off-ball movement created him the vast majority of his three-point attempts. Since losing a fair chunk of his athletcism from his younger days, Allen can no longer be relied upon creating his own shot off the dribble on a consistent basis. Korver has never been great at putting the ball on the floor, but he can do it. He's practically what Ray Allen is now: A player who can be used to bait defenses, run off screens and burn teams who doesn't defend the three-point line well.

It's important to note that the new schemes are not going to bring the same scoring volume to Korver, as it does to Allen in Boston. Basketball is about opportunities, and by having a player who demands defensive attention due to his movement off the ball, it opens up driving lanes, attack positions and the ability to push the ball down low for close shots. If the Bulls can get away with Boozer getting a 5-foot shot, it'll always be prefered over a 17-footer from Korver.

What's good to know is that Korver can step in and add that scoring presence when necessary. Thibodeau can rely on Korver's quick release and shooting ability to carry the Bulls through stretches, where offense is hard to come by. With Derrick Rose lurking on the wings, and the athletic Joakim Noah always hustling his way to results, the Bulls should have the necessary tools to build the best offense they've had since the Michael Jordan era.



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  • I think with the current constitution, I would put Korver on the starting five. If they make a trade for Rudy...then maybe Korver can be the 6th/7th man. It would be nice to have a backup 5(6-10) of Korver, Brewer, Watson, Taj and Thomas with Bogans filling in if Watson struggles and Brewer can handle the ball to makeup a big second team.

  • Korver has been used as the go-to player on the second unit. It will be the same getting into regular season. I agree that it has been a smart move from Thibodeau to make him have Allen/Hamilton type of off ball movement, yet I think our first unit (including Boozer) will have enough solutions to create offense. Korver will have a hard time defensively against many starting SGs. And our second units usually struggle to create some offense. I like Korver's current role and the way Thibodeau developped his game.

  • ive been referring to korver as ray allen lite. :)

  • Jessica Alba is on the Hollywood herpies careful, Stig. :)

  • I like having Korver off the bench. Every successful teams needs an offensive spark off the bench a la Ginobili, Jason Terry and Jamaal Crawford. The way things are shaping up, he's our go-to scorer off the bench and we're building a strong second unit: Taj, Korver, Watson, Asik and JJ not to mention Bogans and Thomas. That's important as they can take advantage of other team's second units requiring their starters to take shorter rest periods while giving our starters longer breathers. That's gonna make us a really dangerous team.

  • Great post. His scoring threat off the bench will be key to the 2nd team or help with the 1st team. I love that we took a coach away from the Celts who was arguably more critical than Rivers was in their success. Now, he can teach that to the young Bulls and our Big 3 can do just as well.

  • This post supports my contention that TT should not only be a good offensive coach, but a great one.

    You cannot be a defensive mastermind without understanding the offensive side of the ball inside and out.

  • There's no doubt Korver has looked terrific. He has shown he can score off the dribble at times, and even looks comfortable shooting or dishing in the mid to low post.

    But I'm not going to jump to to many conclusions. We haven't seen Brewer play, and he might be as pleasant a surpise as Kyle. And you have to admit this is a small sampling so far for Korver, and things may look different against many of the starting SG's in the league. But it's a great sign that he's looking this good so far.

    As for the plays Mort spoke of I'm sure Thibs and his staff have plenty in the bag for an offensively talented roster who have all shown they can score on a high field goal percentage/are offensively skilled: Rose .496, Deng .466, Noah .504, Taj .494, Boozer .560, Brewer .508, Watson .468, and Korver .493. Not to mention savvy guys like Bogans, Kurt Thomas etc.

    I just wonder if we stay healthy post Booz PinkieGate if we might be realizing just how good this offense might be with team balance and excellent fundamentals/system and play calling by Thibs and staff. If Derrick can create more contact, and up it to 23-24ppg with continued high FG% and much improved D then look the hell out NBA.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I'm with Road Warrior on this one. I think the Bulls are gonna be a force.

  • I was noticing the Ray Allen similarities when I was watching the Milwaukee game and Korver was running around doing those curls and I completely spaced the Thibs-Allen connection. It's interesting and Thibs must've played a bigger part in their offensive development than we have given him credit for... Makes me wish we still had BG, but I am excited to see what Ashton- I mean Kyle can bring to our team. It is nice that he is 6'7- that is one advantage over BG...

  • In reply to turdburglar:

    Right? BG simply didn't have the size to defend his position, much less the mentality/desire. At least Korver has the physique to match up with most other small forwards and shooting guards and, if not the athleticism, the grit and determination to do so. I'm confident Thibs can instill such qualities...and I see Korver buying in, i.e. "Coach isn't just preaching defense, he's getting me touches on offense too, so yeah, I'll defend :)"

  • In reply to turdburglar:

    To me, what is so impressive about Thibs use of Korver is - no one saw this coming! The Bulls signed Korver because he's a 3pt threat, but nobody anywhere in the media talked about Korver as a complete offensive weapon. So Thibs saw something no one else in the NBA saw. This is an original piece of coaching and an indicator of more original insight to come from Thibs.

    We've got us a excellent coach and he's not just a defensive specialist. Thibs may be our best off-season acquisition.

  • In reply to turdburglar:


    To be honest, I think the Boston comparison I a bit over-blown.

    Korver is not Allen.

    Granted they can both shoot, but one is a starter (Allen) and one is not (Korver).

    Let it work itself out. This Bulls' team needs to find its own identity.

  • In reply to MrHappy:,0,2183211.story

    In the above Tribune article by KC Johnson Thibs says he likes Korver with the second unit. There's still 82 games to play, but if Korver can score like this off the bench throughout the regular season he may be in the discussion for 6th man of the year.

    An impact scorer off the bench is a valuable piece to have on the roster.

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