The Sixers have now played 10 games in the post-Korver era, with less-than stellar results (2-8). Judging the team on record alone is a bit short-sighted, they did play 8 of those games on the road, and 7 against playoff teams from last year. Still, it hasn't exactly been an inspiring stretch, record-wise.
I've spent a lot of time talking about the long-term implications of the Korver trade, so there's no need to rehash that. Today, I want to talk about the numbers with and without Korver. There's a pretty stark difference, here are the raw numbers.
Without Korver *
* These numbers include the 4 games he missed in November
Those numbers jump out at you, but to put them into context you have to realize the Sixers played 9 of those 14 games without Korver on the road, 10 of the 14 against playoff teams from last year. The raw stats would tell you that Kyle Korver made the Sixers a much better defensive team. I'm not making that argument. I think to truly see the effect of Korver's departure we should take a look at who on the team has been effected the most.
I think the answer to that question, and the player most likely to shed a tear when he watches the video at the top of the post is Lou Williams. Before we get into the thinking behind this, let's take a look at Lou's numbers before and after the Korver trade.
Pretty big changes across the board. Some could be expected: When Korver was removed from the rotation, Lou's role shifted, he became the primary offensive weapon off the bench, rather than a distributor. I'd venture a guess that Mo Cheeks told him to take more shots, or at least play a larger role in the offense. That would account for the jump in FGA. Without Korver, the Sixers really don't have a viable threat from downtown. Lou needed to pick up some slack there, accounting for the jump in 3P Attempted. Assists were down because he was asked to take more shots (or took it upon himself). That's where the changes you'd expect end.
The numbers I want to take a close look at are his shooting percentages across the board, and his turnovers/minute. In theory, these numbers shouldn't have been effected tremendously, but they were. His shooting percentage dropped over 5%, three point percentage nearly 20%. Even his FT percentage dropped nearly 10%. His turnovers/minute rose by 0.01, which may not seem like a big deal, but the end result is 0.082/minute, or 3.28/40 minutes. His assist to turnover ration dropped from a little over 2.0 to 1.5.
There are a few ways to interpret these stats.
Lou was playing over his head through the first 25 games of the year, since then he's come back down to Earth.
Lou was playing within himself through the first 25 games of the year, since then he's been pressing to make things happen.
Lou is just in a shooting slump (this is backed up, somewhat, by the drop in FT%)
Kyle Korver's absence has made it much harder for Lou to get quality shots in the offense.
Honestly, I think it's a combination of all four, but Korver's absence is magnifying the other three. When I interviewed Ed Stefanski earlier this week, he went to great lengths to describe the effect a post-presence has on an outside shooter. Defenses have to double the post, leaving Korver open for jumpers. I think we're seeing the inverse at work now with the Sixers.
When Korver was on the floor, his man would not leave him to help (if he did, Korver would make him pay). This opened up driving lanes for Lou, who did most of his damage driving to the hoop. Now that Korver is gone, defenses are collapsing on Williams' drives. Instead of kicking it out to ineffective jump shooters, he's still taking it to the cup. More bodies in the lane equals more contact, but less finishes. That's why his FTA/game has jumped so much while his shooting percentage has taken a nose dive. Defenders don't have to worry about getting burned by Lou because there's extra help now, so they're playing him much tighter on the perimeter, giving him less room to take jumpers.
The defense has adjusted to Lou, and he's been slow to adjust to the changes. From watching the games, it looks like Lou has regressed to the chucker he was earlier in his career. I'm not ready to make that statement definitively, but this trend has to stop. When's he's off the ball, with Miller in the back court I don't have a problem with him playing with a scorer's mentality, but when he's running the point, he needs to act the part. He's spent too much time with the second group on the floor to be bound and determined to take a shot every time down the floor. He was a facilitator earlier in the year, he needs to get back to that. I'd hate to see the great strides he made over the past year negated because he's been put in a much tougher situation, personnel-wise.
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