Monday, November 06, 2006

Philly finds its sixth man

By John McMullen

If the Philadelphia 76ers expected to get better after a terribly disappointing 2005-2006 season, they were going to need vast improvement from a trio of young underachievers -- Kyle Korver, Andre Iguodala andSamuel Dalembert.

And while it's certainly not time to tally the results -- early returns are nothing but favorable, especially for Korver.

Three games certainly don't make a season but after the Sixers trounced an overmatched Hawks team, bested a talented Orlando club on the road and dismantled the defending NBA champs -- albeit it a Shaq-less version -- they are sitting as the only undefeated team in the Eastern Conference.

And Korver has been especially daunting as the sharp-shooting sixth man.

"Kyle has just been off the charts the first three games - the way he's been shooting the ball," said Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks after the team disposed of the Heat.

Mo may have understated things just a bit. In the Sixers sweep of the Sunshine State, the former Creighton star shot 17-of-25 from the floor and was a ridiculous 9-of-10 from long range.

Obviously those numbers can't hold up for long and teams will start paying more attention to Kyle if he continues to display a red-hot stoke. But, he seems keenly aware of that and ready to setup his teammates -- a great sign.

"They'll probably press on me a little more now," Korver said. "But someone else will be able to step up. We got a lot of guys that can. It's not like it is on me to score a lot of points every game. We have great guys thatcan do it."

The opposition focusing on Korver?

That's a long way from last season when Korver's lack of rebounding and defensive skills made him the butt of jokes. Bill Simmons, the wonderfully irreverent ESPN columnist, even coined the phrase "Korver money" to describe a GM who overpays a questionable talent.

But can Simmons and the rest of Korver's detractors really blame Kyle for a basketball braintrust that just didn't understand his game?

Korver is a role player -- a specialist. An excellent pure shooter who can do little else. Now that Billy King and Cheeks have figured that out, Korver is in a comfort zone and becoming quite a weapon.

"I feel a lot stronger physically - that is probably one of the biggest things," Korver said of his impressive start. "I'm a lot more confident. Iworked a lot on my post-ups. Shooting is always going to be what I do best butI tried to evolve a little bit. I am just going to continue to work and try to get better."

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The Phanatic

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

K squared = 3