What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Kyle Korver’s name? In nine out of ten cases, it’s probably going to be that deadly stroke. A 42.5% career three-point shooter, Korver’s marksmanship is going to go down in the first line of his bio, forever. Such was the case this season, when Korver connected on a ridiculous 47.2% of his threes – which led the league – while breaking the NBA record (and by a mile) for most consecutive games with a three pointer made. This streak was as good a representation of Korver’s dedication to the craft as could be, and it captivated Hawks fans night in and night out.
“For Hawks fans, it became incredibly special as the season took a downward spiral. Injury after injury, game after game, the team was getting weaker and falling in the standings. But every game, Korver prevailed with this streak to give the fans something to watch, something to hope for, and something to get excited about the next time around,” wrote HawksHoop’s own Bo Churney when the streak finally ended.
Such as the streak was much more than just a shooting exhibition, Kyle Korver’s season was about more than just his shooting ability. We’ve long known of Korver’s deadly range, but this year was further confirmation that he’s the complete role player.
Looking through a general scope, the numbers paint a pretty clear picture of Korver’s effect on Atlanta this season. His per game numbers reflect little: 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2.9 assists a night. However, the Hawks NetRTG was 9.1 more points better with Korver on the floor than off, the second-best disparity on the squad. When Korver missed six straight games in the month of March, Atlanta went 0-6 (three of those teams falling short of making the Playoffs) and were outscored by a frightening 15.1 points per 100 possessions. Yikes. Korver also led the entire league in true-shooting percentage.
The Hawks weren’t the Hawks without Kyle Korver, who constantly kept defenses on their toes with his shooting while causing all sorts of problems for the opposition everywhere else. Korver ranked 12th among shooting guards in defensive rebounding rate and assist rate, aiding both the bigs on the boards and delivering crisp passing when called upon. This is what you might call a complete package, the perfect combination of skills you’d want out of a role player. And the defense, oh the defense…
Korver comes off as the stereotypical shooter that should be a negative on defense, but this is far from the truth. Korver was as consistent as can be in making the right system plays, rotating when needed, coming up with deflections and blocks with his quick hands. Put this all together and you have a guy that does a ridiculous amount of things on the basketball court, even ranking third (among 11 other players who had the same amount) in distance traveled per 48 minutes among players that played over 34 a night per SportVU player tracking data.
Korver did all of this, but most of all did it on a nightly basis. Though the entire team struggled when injuries ran amok, Korver was otherwise a sure thing each time out. Need some big time threes? Korver. Need a man to feed the backdoor cutter? Korver. What about someone that can be relied on to play within the team’s defense and do it well? That’s right, Korver.
The best news for Hawks fans? He’s here for a while, and shows no signs of slowing down. Although many want to see the wing position upgraded, Korver would be a starter on championship-contending teams, which makes you think that perhaps that shooting guard spot is his for years to come. I wouldn’t have any objections, and you probably shouldn’t, either.