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Spenser Heaps, KSL

Kyle Korver enjoying mentoring young Jazz players

By Ryan Miller, KSL.com | Posted - Jan 18th, 2019 @ 11:45am



SALT LAKE CITY — Kyle Korver releases the ball so fast it’s hard to notice all the details.

The wide stance and the exaggerated legs, the slight bend at the waist with the straight elbow, the distance between the fingers and the square shoulders, and the high release point with the long follow through.

Korver has analyzed every part of his shot — and then analyzed it again. He's perfected the movements and made it close to as automatic as just about any player in NBA history.

It’s why he’s one of the most feared sharpshooters ever. And it’s why he’s become one of the best mentors to young players in the league. He can do more than just space the floor and can knock down shots with little to no spacing. He can teach other players to do it too.

“I talk to him each day,” Jazz guard Royce O’Neale said. “We shoot each day together. Me and Donovan (Mitchell) have been talking to him a lot, helping each other out. He’s one of the greatest shooters in history — to be able to talk to him every day helps us out with our jump shots.”

That’s nothing new for Korver. Before his trade to Utah, he was Cleveland’s quasi-shooting coach, taking young players under his wing and helping them not only develop proper technique but also add some needed confidence.

"It wasn't even so much mechanics, it was more so the mindset and confidence to step into it knowing this is a good shot for me and a good shot for our team,” Cleveland forward Larry Nance Jr. said last month.

It’s not uncommon to see Korver and O’Neale locked in a shooting contest following Jazz practices or shootarounds. But it’s more than just shooting together; O’Neale said that he and Mitchell have used the time to pick Korver’s brain and to find out exactly what he is doing when he shoots.

“Sometimes, it’s as simple as hand placement,” O’Neale said. “Things he sees like where to shoot, where to aim at for the basket. Details that you never realized."

Mitchell has been shooting 42 percent from 3-point range in January, and O’Neale has hit over 40 percent from distance since the Korver trade. Mitchell’s free throws have even started to look like Korver’s, with straight elbows to begin his shooting motion.

“I don’t think I have done that much — shot with some guys, give some pointers — I’m happy to share with anything I might know," Korver said. "This is just a really great locker room. The Jazz have done a great job of bringing in the right guys.”

Korver wants to make it clear: He’s not a coach. He gets paid to run around screens and hit shots. But he also enjoys passing down knowledge — especially when players are eager to learn. Korver said that players, especially at the NBA, aren't always receptive to learning new things, but the Jazz locker room is unique in that regard. Everyone just wants to get better.

“I think it’s like anything in life — if people want help, they are willing to make changes fairly quickly,” Korver said. “If you ask any of the coaches here — and I’m not a coach, I’m just a player — but when guys want help, you can see it in their eye and you can see it in the body language.”

And you can hear it as they talk about it, too. O’Neale and Mitchell have been very quick in pointing out the help that Korver has given them. Be it from shooting sessions or just from watching his tireless routine.

"Him coming in when he did and helping out," O'Neale said. "Just being able to help us out each day, shows a lot about who he is.”

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