Name: Kyle Korver
Weight: 212 pounds
Birth Date: March 17, 1981 (29 years old)
Birth Place: Lakewood, California
Nicknames: Ashton Kutcher
Drafted: 2003, selected 51st overall by the Nets
Experience: 7 seasons
Previous teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz
Expect: High-percentage, long-range sniping
Don’t expect: Much else
During the 2008-09 season, the Bulls ranked a sparkling 7th in three-point field goal percentage (.381). During the 2009-10 season — after Ben Gordon took his talent to the Motor City — Chicago dropped to a truly dreadful 28th in that category (.330). Their need was was both aching and obvious. It affected nearly every facet of the team’s stagnant offense (27th in Offensive Rating).
Enter Kyle Korver.
Over the course of his seven-year NBA odyssey, Korver has connected on 41.0 percent of his three-point attempts. That’s good enough for 13th on the Association’s all-time list. What’s more, last season he set a new league record for highest three-point shooting percentage in a season (.536).
The man can shoot.
Like I said…the man can shoot.
I already mentioned last season’s record-setting three-point marksmanship. He also drilled 46 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet. Unfortunately, his midrange shooting wasn’t quite so blistering. In fact, it was barely tepid. Korver converted only 40 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet and was also at 40 percent inside 10 feet. Kyle did hit 57 percent of his shots at the rim, but he attempted only 0.4 field goals per game from that range.
Although he doesn’t get there much, Korver can bang ’em down from the line. His career free throw percentage is nearly 88 percent, and he led the league during the 2006-07 season (.914).
Here’s the rub.
During the 2009-10 campaign, 92 percent of Korver’s field goal attempts were jump shots. According to 82games.com, only eight percent of his shots were in close…and 19 percent of those got stuffed. He didn’t have a single dunk or tip-in. For all we know, he might have a rare but deadly allergy to the paint.
Let’s parse it out some more. Korver attempted 5.4 shots per game, with 4.6 of those attempts coming from 16-23 feet (2.5 per) and beyond the arc (2.1). And here’s the breakdown by assist percentage: 93.2 of his treys were assisted, while 96.6 of his shots from 16-23 feet were the results of a timely dish.
The point is: Korver does not generate his own looks. His offense relies on sturdy screens or wide open looks, selfless passing and a quick release. If he was forced to create his own shots or starve, the Bulls would be shelling out $5 million this season for a dusty pile of bones wrapped in a tattered Kyle Korver jersey.
I’m just sayin’.
Beyond that, Korver contributed 1.7 assists per game and only 0.2 offensive rebounds per game. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Kyle is a spot-up shooter. Period. The end.
So, yeah. Korver is more or less (read that: more) a one-trick pony. Fortunately, that one trick is pretty darn good. And it happens to be a trick the Bulls really, really needed. His shooting will spread the floor for Derrick Rose to drive and Carlos Boozer to work his magic in the middle. When he’s on the floor anyway. How long Korver manages to stay in the game in large part will be determined by…
Korver is not what you’d call a defensive specialist. He’s barely what you’d call “defensively alive.” This is kind of a big deal since he splits time between shooting guard and small forward. You know, the same positions as Carmelo Anthony, Danny Granger, Dwyane Wade, Geral Wallace, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Vince Carter…
…and you just can’t expect Kyle to check those guys. You just can’t. Which means that, in big games, you probably won’t see Korver on the floor during the fourth quarter. This significantly limits his effectiveness.
That said, as long as he’s not facing a big-time opponent, Korver isn’t a total loss on D. According to ESPN’s John Hollinger: “Korver may never make the all-defense team thanks to his slow feet, but he’s an active help defender who takes charges and competes. With good size for a wing, he’s difficult to post up against and does a very solid job defending 3s overall. But the Jazz often played him at the 2, and he struggles against quicker guards. He fouls more than average too, but the Jazz defended better with him on the court than off it.”
I guess all you can ask is that Korver gives it the old college try. Hopefully, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can invent a scheme that makes Kyle’s deficiencies a non-issue…or that Joakim Noah can swallow up anybody who slips by his new teammate.
In a sport that favors all-around play, Korver is one of the last true specialists. His function is to shoot the basketball at a high percentage from vast distances. This is a skill that some teams live off of (just as the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns). The Bulls desperately needed to improve their three-point shooting, and that’s what they did, because Korver was the best long-distance shooter in history last season.
The downside is, due to his lack of all-around skills and inability to defend elite players at his position(s), Korver will never be anything more than a part-time player. He’ll log 15 minutes or so per game as a backup to Ronnie Brewer and Luol Deng. He’ll help keep the defense from sagging in and double-teaming Rose and Boozer.
Korver will be a key piece of the Bulls’ puzzle. Just not an All-Star.