It appears Luke Kornet’s unique strategy on defense is starting to rub off on other NBA players. Even ones who are much shorter than him. Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young tried what is being called the “Kornet Kontest” when the Hawks faced the New York Knicks on December 7, which led to outlets like The Sporting News mocking him.
Technically speaking, the strategy worked during that sequence since Julius Randle missed the shot, but unlike when Kornet does it, Young was not directly facing Randle when he jumped, and his shorter frame at six-foot-one compared to Kornet’s seven-foot-two frame makes it not as challenging of a contest.
Even though the Boston Celtics‘ big man’s unorthodox strategy gets mocked, as it does below by Caesars Sportsbook’s Twitter account, it has worked, like it did when he tried it against Udonis Haslem when the Celtics played against the Miami Heat on November 30.
The Effectiveness of the ‘Kornet Kontest’
In a December 7 The Sporting News Story, Steph Noh examined how effective the “Kornet Kontest” is against the Celtics’ opponents. Noh examined each and every time Kornet used the strategy on the defensive end. Noh admitted that tracking the data was difficult.
“I tried to track Kornet’s eclipses, and it wasn’t easy. The NBA provides shot contest data for the closest defender, but Kornet is so far away from shooters that most of his contests don’t register in the league’s tracking data.
“You read that right — Kornet broke the NBA’s stats database,” Noh said.
Noh then detailed how he was able to measure the effectiveness of the “Kornet Kontest” and how effective it was.
“I went through a handful of Celtics games and also monitored social media to mark down when anyone tweeted about Kornet using the technique. That resulted in 18 incidences of it being used through Dec. 6…Of the 18 eclipses that I was able to track down, shooters were only successful on five attempts. What makes those results even more impressive is that most of these shots were wide open.”
The Sporting News posted a compilation of 16 instances of the “Kornet Kontest,” noting that of the 16 times opponents tried to shoot over him, only four of the shots went in.
When Kornet has been on the floor this season, the Celtics have allowed 5.3 fewer points per 100 possessions.
Joe Mazzulla Thoughts on the ‘Kornet Kontest’
On November 28, Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla gave his thoughts on Kornet’s unorthodox strategy.
Mazzulla said that it “messes with the shooter” but also that “guys were getting better at attacking it” because “they are waiting for him to come back down and driving, so it puts him in difficult spots defensively.”
As of December 8, the Celtics are tied with the Chicago Bulls for eighth in defensive rating, allowing 110.8 points per 100 possessions. They’ve managed to have a top-10 defensive rating as a team, with Kornet, Al Horford, Grant Williams, Blake Griffin, and Noah Vonleh all featured in their frontcourt rotation.
They’ve pulled that off despite not having Robert Williams III, who made the All-NBA Defensive Second Team last season, available for their first 26 games.