Cleveland Cavaliers sharpshooter Sam Merrill shared a surprising level of 3-point shooters that he studies to help improve his own game.
“It took me 71 minutes Wednesday morning to find my car keys,” The Athletic’s Joe Vardon wrote. “I bring this up because, well, Merrill claims to have not studied Korver as much as he’s studied Cavs teammate Max Strus, former Cav and NBA 3-point champ Joe Harris (now of the Pistons’ bench, near the end of it), Seth Curry and Duncan Robinson. And yet, Merrill has enough memory of Korver’s form to say this: ‘When he’s coming off his left shoulder, he has a little leg kick, and I’ve tried to emulate that.’”
Merrill clearly is intent on perfecting his craft, which is a great thing for the Cavs as they have needed him to play in 30 games this season due to injuries to players across the roster – including a lengthy absence for point guard Darius Garland.
It’s interesting to see the different types of shooters that Merrill has studied, as Robinson, Harris, Strus and Korver are more catch-and-shoot players than players who create their 3-point looks off the dribble.
This season, Merrill is averaging 8.6 points per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from beyond the arc.
In his 30 games, Merrill is attempting 5.7 3-point shots per game and just 1.0 2-point shots per game. It’s clear he knows that his role on the team is to make 3-point shots at a high level.
The Cavs have certainly benefited from Merrill’s strong shooting, as the team holds the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference ahead of its matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.
While Cleveland went on and spent big money to acquire Strus in a sign-and-trade with the Heat this past offseason, the team has seemingly found a diamond in the rough with Merrill as well.
Last season, Merrill appeared in five games for the Cavs after spending the first two seasons of his NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies. He played in 30 games in his rookie season with the Bucks, meaning that he’s already matched his career-high in games played this season.
Merrill has clearly done a lot of studying to prepare himself for this moment in his NBA career where he can be a fairly regular contributor in the rotation, and the Cavs are certainly hoping he keeps his craft sharp as they continue the 2023-24 season.