The NBA season is finally here, and with the season getting underway, it is time to complete the Atlanta Hawks player profiles. Up next we have Kyle Korver, who is as well known for the great arc of his shots as he is for the great arc of his hair.
Korver is the eighth installment in this series of profiles, and perhaps the Hawks most underrated acquisition of the offseason. In a deal that the Chicago Bulls made in an attempt to save money, the Hawks were able to acquire Korver without having to give up a player in return. While adding Kyle Korver to the team doesn’t exactly scream “NEW DYNASTY!”, he fits very well in the Hawks new shooter-heavy offense.
It is common knowledge throughout the league that leaving Korver alone outside to shoot is about as bad an idea as leaving your children alone outside when you see an unmarked white van pull up. Korver has the ability knock down the three whether he is covered or not however, as he needs very little space to get his shot off. He is very quick off screens, and can shoot off-balance if forced to. All of this makes Korver one of the most dangerous shooters in the league, evidenced by his #14 ranking in career three-point percentage in NBA history (41.3%).
Though Korver’s scoring fell to just 8.1 points-per-game last season (the third lowest total in his 9-year career), his shooting ability has not waned one bit. His 43.5% clip from downtown last year was good for 10th in the league, and actually was slightly higher than his overall shooting percentage of 43.2%.
High Point Of The 2011-2012 Season- On March 10th against his former team the Utah Jazz, Korver scored a season-high 26 points in one his rare starts. While the main satisfaction for Korver may have come from beating his old team, what really stood out was Korver’s ability to provide a spark somewhere other than the three-point line. In addition to a season-high six three-pointers he made, Korver added a season-high six assists (without a single turnover), and seven rebounds. This game proved that Korver could still be counted on to provide big minutes at both the shooting guard and small forward positions, and impact a game in more than one area.
Low Point Of The 2011-2012 Season- A handful of injuries limited Korver’s role in the Bulls’ first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers last season, and you’d have to think that he would have liked to end his tenure with the Bulls a little more productively. After a strong 11-point showing in the first game of the series, Korver scored just 12 points in the next five. He only saw 11 minutes of playing time in the final two games, and was held scoreless in both. In total, he averaged 3.8 points on 40% shooting (30% from beyond the arc) in the series, a disappointing showing considering that the Bulls were desperate for other scoring options following Derrick Rose‘s injury.
3 Reasons Hawks Fans Should Be Happy:
1. Compared to the designated team-shooter that the Hawks relied on last year, Vladimir Radmanovic, Korver is an enormous step forward. While Radmanovic had a handful of stellar games, a combination of injuries and corner three pointers hitting the side of the backboard limited his playing time dramatically. While Radmanovic coincidentally ended up on the Bulls this offseason, the Hawks will be glad to have a more consistent shooter, even if the lack of a player named Vladimir on their roster may hurt the team’s chances for a vodka sponsorship.
2. It is an unavoidable fact; Kyle Korver is a good-looking fellow. While I am a huge fan of basketball, one of my least favorite conversations to have is “Who is hotter: Kyle Korver or JJ Redick?” (i’m not the one asking the question). But for a city like Atlanta which struggles to fill the seats at times (unless LeBron James or Kobe Bryant is in town), Korver may be a god send. With any luck, the sale of Korver jerseys to wide-eyed women everywhere may help pay a good portion of the $5 million that he is due this season.
If the Hawks front-office gets even more creative, perhaps a kissing booth led by Korver (with Zaza Pachulia waiting in the background) could help pay the team’s luxury tax and make a mid-season move that much more likely.
3. In past years if the Hawks needed a last-second shot, everybody knew that Joe Johnson was most likely going to take it (save for the two-year Jamal Crawford era). Now however, Korver becomes one of the many options who the Hawks can turn to for a clutch basket. While the loss of Johnson may seem to negatively impact the team’s last second hopes in this coming season, I believe that it actually helps them.
Just as Hawks fans knew that JJ was going to take the game-winners, so did the opponents. While JJ was able to hit some impressive game-winners and overtime-forcing shots in his time with the Hawks, most of them were extremely difficult, as the entire defense was focused solely on him. The new Hawks roster may not have anybody as clutch as JJ was, but it does have an increase in potential end-of-game options. Newcomers Lou Williams, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Tolliver, and Devin Harris, as well as Korver, all have experience taking clutch shots (some in more important situations than others). Throw in capable scorers Jeff Teague, Josh Smith, Al Horford and rookie John Jenkins, and the Hawks have seemingly a full roster to choose from when drawing up a play at the end of the game.
Strengths- Shooting. Making young women faint. Shooting. Posing for team calendars. Pump faking. Shooting.
Weaknesses- Needs work on his defense, though his effort is always there even if nothing else is. He has trouble guarding stronger forwards, as well as staying with quicker guards. Doesn’t always finish at the rim, which explains why he spends so much time outside.
2012-13 Season Outlook- Korver will be counted upon to start at small forward for at least a portion of the season (depending on the matchup), and will need to continue to knock down shots. As long as the Hawks put him in the right situation, this should be no problem. One aspect of the Hawks’ offense which needs to improve in order to facilitate this however is their post-up game. Either Smith, Horford, or Zaza Pachulia will need to be able to draw defenders inside at least a bit in order to free Korver up to shoot. While the Hawks have the ability to drive the lane and kick it back out with Teague, Harris, and Williams, it will still be important to get Korver shots from as many different offensive sets as possible.
2012-13 Projected Role- Korver will be starting when the team decides that offense is more important than defense, and will get his shots early and often. Even during games where Korver comes off the bench, the lineup he’ll share the court with should be more than able to help him step into open looks. With the new-look Hawks offense filled with a variety of shooters, the defense won’t be able to focus solely on Korver either, which will benefit both player and team this season.
2012-13 Projected Stats- A slight increase in points, a rise in three-point percentage, and the same strong amount of screaming female fans in the seats.
PG- Jeff Teague / Devin Harris
SG- Anthony Morrow / Louis Williams / John Jenkins
SF- Josh Smith / Kyle Korver / DeShawn Stevenson
PF- Al Horford / Ivan Johnson / Mike Scott
C- Zaza Pachulia / Johan Petro / Jordan Williams (Waived)
Up next is Lou Williams.