Kyle Korver is on fire, and so are the Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks have won 12 of 13 games, and Kyle Korver is a big reason why.
The Atlanta Hawks lost three of their first four games. They recovered nicely, winning six of nine to climb to a 7-6 record. They appeared ready to duplicate their previous few seasons, finishing with a record near .500 before bowing out early in the playoffs. Then Atlanta won 12 of 13 games and cemented itself as a serious contender in the Eastern Conference.
A lot of that has to do with Kyle Korver, a 33-year-old journeyman guard who is having the best shooting season of his 14-year career. Korver is averaging 13.2 points per game for the Hawks, but it’s his dead-eye shooting that is opening up the Hawks’ offense. Korver is shooting an astounding 51.9 percent from the field, an even more astounding 53.9 percent from beyond the arc and 96.3 percent from the free-throw stripe. (He’s made 49 in a row, a Hawks record.) Korver is on pace for a historic year.
His shooting chart is almost unfathomable:
Korver’s shooting is made even more dangerous in that 68.4 percent of his shots are from behind the arc. His true shooting percentage (a shooting percentage that is adjusted to incorporate the value of three-pointers and free throws) is 74.4 percent. That’s second in the league behind new Celtic Brandan Wright.
But Wright plays 13 fewer minutes per game than Korver and isn’t nearly as integral a part of the offense. Amongst guards, Korver is tops in the league by a long shot (pun intended). Kevin Martin is second in the league at 65.2 percent in nine games. For comparison’s sake: Stephen Curry’s true shooting percentage is 62.0 and J.J. Reddick’s is 62.3.
Zach Lowe of Grantland thinks Korver deserves an All-Star spot:
Competition is tough, but Kyle Korver deserves All-Star consideration. Shooting an insane 52%/54%/96%, Hawks’ offense dies when he sits.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) December 21, 2014
Korver’s historic shooting numbers agree with Lowe. And he’s right about Korver being a huge cog in the Hawks offense, which is thriving.
They’re seventh in the league in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) at 106.8, and they’re doing it without a true leading scorer. In the last 13 games, Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll, Shelvin Mack and Kyle Korver have all taken turns leading the team in points.
But it’s Korver who makes the biggest difference. When he’s on the court, the Hawks shoot 48.5 percent from the field and score 106.9 points per 100 possessions. When he’s off the court, those numbers dip to 44.4 percent and 92.2 points per 100 possessions. Having the shooting threat of Korver on the court is invaluable for the Hawks.
He can’t be left alone. Case in point: the shot that stuck a dagger in the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
There is 1:30 remaining in the game, 18 seconds left on the shot clock and the Hawks have just a two-point lead. For most players, this wouldn’t be a great shot. You can’t blame Jason Terry for not being right on them.
But you can blame Jason Terry in this case. Kyle Korver is shooting 53 percent from that spot of the court. He cannot be left alone.
Whether Korver will get a spot on the All-Star team remains to be seen. The competition is tough with players like John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the backcourt discussion. But when it comes to a pure shooter, no one is better than Korver this season.
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