“That boy is our last hope.” -Obi Wan Kenobi
Two seasons. 127 games. 337 three-point field goals. And thousands and thousands of off-ball screens.
And now the end.
Kyle Korver’s 0-for-5 performance from behind the arc against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday marked the first time he played a game without making a three-pointer since November 2, 2012. That game was against the Houston Rockets, Korver’s first game in a Hawk uniform after being acquired from the Chicago Bulls that summer.
After that game, Korver started hitting from deep with regularity, with some great moments coming out of his three-point makes; he had one game-winner, but his most memorable performance being the eight threes made in the second half against the Boston Celtics to rally the Hawks to a win after a 27-point deficit.
The next summer, Korver would be rewarded with a four-year, $24 million deal for his marksmanship. While some considered that a bit much for a 32 year old role player, the Hawks saw that much value in a 46% three-point shooter that plays well within the team concept. And so far, it is hard to argue that Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry was wrong in giving him that contract; according to Basketball-Reference, the Hawks have been 7.5 points per 100 possessions better with Korver on the court compared to when he’s been off it in his two seasons with the team.
So after the new deal, the 2013-14 season began and Korver continued his streak with a hot start, shooting over 50% from deep over the first month of the season. Soon enough, he broke Dana Barros’ 17 year old NBA record by hitting a three for the 90th consecutive game on December 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Of course, why just break a mark when you can shatter it? Korver soared past the mark, adding another 37 games on top of the record to give himself comfortable distance between himself and the next active competitor. (Steph Curry, who is currently at 50 consecutive games)
Korver’s streak represented a couple things. Foremost, it was a tribute to Kyle Korver’s impressive work ethic and the work of a team to consistently get a player open shots. As Korver said himself, the record was not just because of his own efforts, but it was the fruit of a full team working together.
The second thing is that it represented why we as fans watch the game of basketball. While this streak was not the most impressive thing to be done on a court, it captivated Atlanta and basketball fans alike. Fans that tuned into a Hawks game that was already in progress usually had one question come to their mind: “Has Korver made a 3 yet?”
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 standing. 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.
And as Korver’s impressive streak comes to an end, it is important to remember that soon something else will pop up for Hawks fans to relish in. As Bret LaGree opined in his TrueCities column on TrueHoop: “More importantly, the organization is making a concerted effort to enliven its basketball operations.”
While the Hawks’ front office could have never imagined something like this happening when they originally signed Korver, it is part of that vigor to try and re-energize the fan base that hasn’t seen a lot of excitement since the early 90s.
So as ATL fans sorrow in the loss of a record that was holding their interest in a lost season, they should take solace in this: the Danny Ferry regime is doing its best to put an exciting and winning product on the floor. They have two All-Stars on the roster (Millsap and Horford) and appear to be extremely skilled in picking up effective role players (Antic, Carroll, Brand, and Korver) for bargain prices. While the light in this season may be fading fast, another beacon will shine soon enough as this team continue to work towards building a title contender.
“That boy is our last hope.” – Obi Wan Kenobi
“No. There is another.” – Yoda