- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
No team in the Association needed a Kyle Korver more than the Utah Jazz. Entering Monday, the Jazz was hitting a league-low 3.7 3-pointers per game, well below most of the other contenders in the West. Golden State, Phoenix and San Antonio are all ranked in the top four and in the 8-9 range per night, and in today's NBA, you need to hit shots from deep to win. Utah wasn't doing that.
Enter Korver, a fan favorite in Philly who certainly brings the Jazz a much-needed 3-point threat. Fantasy owners in ESPN leagues made Korver the No. 25 shooting guard in average live drafts, meaning he wasn't picked in near every league, and even after he was picked he was soon dropped. Korver didn't get off to a good start to the season, and missing two weeks in November didn't endear himself to fantasy owners either.
He's healthy, however, and now we see Korver as one of the top pickups in ESPN leagues, even before he makes his Jazz debut against the streaking Trail Blazers on New Year's eve. So which Korver should we expect, the one who has struggled with his shot this season, or the one who tied Quentin Richardson for the NBA lead in 2004-05 with 226 threes, then finished fifth the season after? There's a big difference, you know.
The Jazz needed a threat more than anything else, especially with Mehmet Okur sputtering, and they have it now. Look for Korver to get open shots right away and improve on his stats, but make sure you know what you're getting in fantasy. In Philly, Korver wasn't really getting enough shots, certainly not in line with his best seasons. I think part of this is because the 76ers lacked inside presence. Samuel Dalembert is more defensive threat than offensive, but in Utah they have this Carlos Boozer guy, and he's a monster in the paint. Point guard Deron Williams is more of a driver than Andre Miller, and you can see how this shapes up nicely for Korver. But don't expect 15 points a night, either.
I think the easiest fantasy basketball categories to get help with off free agency are points and threes. There are many guys out there who fill this need, because 3-point specialists tend to lack in other areas. Korver's no different. He doesn't pretend to want to rebound or pass the ball. He's a shooter, and a pretty good one. Don't look at his current field-goal percentage, or his terrific free-throw percentage. His field-goal accuracy should go up, but he goes to the line so infrequently it has little impact on fantasy. In terms of scoring, I expect a few more points, possibly enough for him to become Utah's No. 3 scorer, but then again, only two players on the team are averaging more than 13 points per night.
Korver is likely to help the Jazz and your fantasy team quite a bit, depending on your need, so if you need threes like the Jazz does, go get him. Honestly, Korver should be owned in a lot more than a third of ESPN leagues to start with, and this trade appears to have reminded fantasy owners of this. As for the guy he was dealt for, I can't tell you how excited I am to see Gordan Giricek in a Philly uniform. Just a few more months and that contract comes off the books. Such is life in today's NBA.
The New 76ers
Philly didn't seem to play much differently when Korver missed time in November, and Sunday's game in Portland, in which the 76ers got outscored by an almost unfathomable 35-9 in the final period and lost, didn't stand out to me in terms of some new philosophy. While Louis Williams saw his minutes jump a bit to 30, don't get too excited. He's still a limited fantasy player as long as he's not the starting point guard, and there's no telling when or if Philly will dump Andre Miller somewhere for another expiring contract. Williams is 6-2, and creates his shot a lot differently than Korver, who is stronger, taller and has a beautiful shot. Williams is a bit like Allen Iverson, in that his range is questionable and his goal appears to be to break defenders down and get to the line, which I think he will do with big minutes. But he's not really a point guard, so even if his minutes rise, will he get five dimes per night? Probably not.
I think the winner in Philly in the Korver trade will more likely be rookie Thaddeus Young, but he's 19 and hardly ready to assume a big role on the 76ers, or in fantasy. Rodney Carney, who forever will be posterized after the massive dunk Travis Outlaw dumped on him, tied a season-high with 11 points, but he doesn't offer anything in fantasy. Oddly enough, if Philly wanted to use Giricek, there would be opportunity for him to get time as a swingman. Who knows, maybe that will happen.
The point is, I don't think anyone in Philly really benefits from the Korver trade, except some unknown free agent next summer.
The New Knicks
Eddy Curry is one of the most dropped players in ESPN leagues, largely because of his five-minute game the day after Christmas. I can't argue this move, since Curry isn't a great fantasy option to start with, and it certainly seems like he's no longer in the team's future plans, though he did get 12 and 8 on Sunday afternoon off the bench, including five offensive rebounds. Then again, a few of them came on his own misses.