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Getting to know Cory Joseph with Caitlin Cooper

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Let’s learn more about one of our newest Kings.

Indiana Pacers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

To learn more about the newest members of the Sacramento Kings, I’ve reached out to members of other SB Nation sites to get their perspectives. Today we’re learning more about Cory Joseph courtesy of Caitlin Cooper of Indy Cornrows.

1. What is your overall opinion of Cory Joseph as a player?

With the Pacers, Joseph was a pesky defender, who routinely did a lot of little things that would end up making a big difference (i.e. getting his leg in front of the ball-handler while fighting through a screen, diving on loose balls, earning key deflections, preventing the big from having to slide over to trap the box, launching a game-changing, half-court heave at risk of his field-goal percentage, etc.).

He isn’t going to create his own shot against a switch, and his jump-shot has a tendency to run hot-and-cold, but he finished a lot of games in spite of those shortcomings because of his ability to bust up plays at the other end of the floor. He also maintained the team’s standard of effort when Victor Oladipo and Thaddeus Young went to the bench, which could be of great value on a young team not exactly known for its defense.

2. What areas of Joseph’s game are going to frustrate Kings fans the most?

For a second-consecutive season, Joseph – or, at least his shot – wore down as the season progressed. After shooting 43 percent from three over his first 22 games, his conversion rate cratered to 27 percent over his remaining 60 games, including a 7-game stretch spanning from late-March into early-April where he failed to record a single make. And that’s just what he shot from outside the 3-point line. His overall field-goal percentage sank to the level of being too hard to watch post All-Star break, dipping below 35 percent.

3. What is the ideal way for a team to use Joseph?

He’s a back-up point guard, but it still nonetheless might be worth it to keep an eye on his minutes. On top of being available for all 82 games each of the last two seasons, Joseph’s 10 most frequent defensive assignments for 2018-19 included being tasked with cooling down combustible sharpshooters such as J.J. Redick (102 possessions), Terrence Ross (90), and Wayne Ellington (82), as well as the likes of Kyrie Irving (65), Trae Young (62), and Zach LaVine (61). He wasn’t likely to be caught taking possessions off, either. Of players averaging at least 25 minutes per game, Joseph’s average defensive speed was 4.18 miles per hour, fourth-highest in the league.

Whether overextended or under-conditioned, there’s evidence (i.e. the steady descent of his jump shot) which suggests that he might benefit from load management, especially since he will be playing at a faster pace with the Kings than ever before in his career.

4. Is there anything else Kings fans should know about Joseph?

I like to refer to him as a cult hero without a cult following because he does these niche things that every fan base loves, but it oftentimes goes unnoticed because he’s more of a workman than a showman.

For instance, I reference this in a series I did last season, but one of my favorite plays of his from 2018-19 was against the Miami Heat.

After swooping-in from the wing like a bat out of you-know-where to provide back-up on the drop-off pass to, and eventual miss from, Hassan Whiteside, he dove on the floor with reckless abandon to tie up the loose rebound with Miami’s starting center.

Jump ball.

That sequence, in and of itself, could be referenced over and over again as an accurate representation of Cory Joseph being Cory Joseph, but what happened next was perhaps more on the nose.

Staring across at Hassan Whiteside with his eyes equal only to the neckline of the 7-footer’s jersey, Indiana’s reserve guard managed to jump quicker to the ball than the man towering over him to win the toss for no other reason than he wanted it more.

Points saved, possession taken.

That’s Cory Joseph.