Kyle Korver scored 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting and 5-of-11 from beyond the arc during his team’s Game 1 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. But the performance of the Atlanta Hawks marksman – who became the third player in league history to make at least 48 percent from the field, 49 percent from three, and 89 percent from the free throw line this season – doesn’t worry Nets coach Lionel Hollins too much.
Why? Korver isn’t Steph Curry.
Here’s Hollins on limiting Korver via the New York Daily News:
“How many shots did he take yesterday and how many did he miss? See, if he’s that good, he’d make all of them.” Hollins said. “Everybody misses, man. He’s a good shooter, I acknowledge that, we acknowledge that as a team, we game plan for him because he is a great shooter. But until he starts shooting 100%, we’ve got to play and be in position to help, and then recover, and close out.
“It’s not like we’re talking (Stephen) Curry. Korver, he’s a great come-off-the-screen guy, he’s great with moving without the ball, but he rarely puts the ball on the floor like Curry and shakes you up.”
Well, Hollins is right – to an extent. Nobody is Curry. But to act as if Korver isn’t the second-most deadly shooter in basketball is a direct affront to not just his wildly efficient 2014-2015 campaign, but his all-encompassing influence as a floor-spacer.
Brooklyn can treat Korver like any other shooter and live with the fall out all it wants. The fact is, though, that no player in basketball sans Curry commanded more off-ball attention than the 34 year-old this season, and there’s an obvious reason why: Korver had a mind-boggling effective field goal percentage of 72.3 this season, a mark that led the league. Defenders hugged him away from the ball as a result, largely accounting for his team-best 110.8 offensive rating.
While Korver isn’t in Curry’s realm as a shot-creator, he’s absolutely the likely MVP’s caliber as a spot-up shooter. And if conventional wisdom and somewhat basic stats aren’t enough to get that reality across, look no further than ESPN’s “gravity ratings” (Insider) – where basketball’s preeminent sharpshooters lapped the field.
So go ahead and defend Korver like a merely ‘great’ shooter, Lionel. As long as you’re prepared to live with the most likely result of a made three-pointer in the process, of course.