The Luke Kornet contest, explained: Does Celtics center’s eclipse technique on defense actually work?

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Call it “The Kornet Contest,” as Celtics announcer Brian Scalabrine does, or “The Eclipse,” as Luke Kornet has named it. Whatever the move goes by, it is instantly recognizable.

Kornet, the backup center for the Celtics, has become a viral sensation for his trademark defensive maneuver. Dating back to last season, Kornet has jumped from absurd distances in an attempt to distract jump shooters.

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Kornet has zero chance of tipping the ball on his vertical leaps. But he believes that he can block the view of the shooter, like an eclipse blocking the sun or the moon.

“It can look really dumb, but it seems to be pretty effective,” Kornet told Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

As ridiculous as the move looks, it has drawn the attention of Boston fans and broadcasters. When it is successful, it is met with delight by Scalabrine.

Does Luke Kornet’s contest technique actually work?

There has been plenty of talk about whether Kornet’s eclipse actually affects shots. It’s kind of hard to believe that it has any impact given how goofy it looks, and there hasn’t really been much data to prove its effectiveness one way or another — until now.

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.

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.

Here’s how shooters have fared against Kornet:

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.

League average on 3-pointers with six or more feet of space was at 38 percent as of Dec. 1. Shooters have hit only 28 percent of those attempts against Kornet’s move.

Skepticism is understandable — eighteen shots is obviously a tiny sample size — but some players seem to be buying in. Kornet’s teammate, Marcus Smart, successfully pulled off the maneuver against Monte Morris, and Pistons big man Jalen Duren has started using it effectively, too.

As silly as it looks, “The Eclipse” may be making its way throughout the NBA.





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