Kyle Korver has his teammates' back (Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver is leading the NBA with a ridiculous 52 percent clip from behind the three-point arc. He’s hit a three-pointer in 97 consecutive games, adding to his NBA record, and the 11-year pro seems like a really swell guy to boot. Prized by Hawks general manager Danny Ferry in the 2012 offseason after two years with the Chicago Bulls, Korver is averaging nearly 13 points per game for the 15-13 Hawks, nailing exactly three three-pointers a contest on average.
Kyle’s no dummy, though. He knows where his bread is buttered, and doesn’t mind relaying the fact that so many parts in a professional offense have to align in order to free the shooter that everyone’s paying attention to in order for him to do what he does best. Korver’s a great athlete, but his handle isn’t the thing directly opening him up for those nearly 1400 career three-pointer. His teammates and coaches have to provide an atmosphere in which he can create, and Korver is well aware of this.
"I'm not out there creating shots,'' he said. "I'm a product of good team basketball, of setting screens and good passes and floor spacing and all of that. This wouldn't have happened without them. A lot of these guys have been here throughout this whole streak. There's a lot of thanks to go around -- players who aren't here this year, coaches who aren't here this year, and this group in here. I just said thank you.''
Ah, shucks. This sort of humility (or, some would call it, “sound basketball knowledge”) is why Ferry also relayed this to Schmitt-Boyer in her feature:
"He is a Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Larry Nance type of person and teammate. I don't use those names lightly and certainly say that respectfully.''
Though Korver may hold the consecutive games record, and though he did lead the NBA in total threes made during his second year in the league, his sub-star status leaves him well short of threatening Ray Allen’s all time record for three-pointers. Allen has more than double Korver’s career total, and though Kyle is six years younger and even with his 6-7 frame likely allowing him to remain potent as he heads into his mid and late 30s, Ray’s career mark probably isn’t in danger.
That’s just fine for Korver, who pointed out to the Plain Dealer that he’s looking more for “efficiency” than becoming a volume shooter. The Hawks may not agree with such an exacting tone, as it would be hard to believe that Kyle Korver’s already-monstrous three-point shooting percent would go down many more ticks if he took more than the 5.8 threes a game he’s taking this season … but the Hawks will take what they can get.
Earlier in the winter, Hoopspeak’s Beckley Mason detailed the pregame routine that Korver employs, one that isn’t unlike Ray Allen’s famed warm up practices:
He begins at the elbow, facing away from the baseline as a coach feeds him from the top of the key. Korver is still focused on his legs. Quin Synder passes him the ball as Korver rotates as though on a hinge, catching and turning to get his shoulders square to the rim in one motion, then executes his impossibly compact release.
He shoots about 20 from each side, letting out an exasperated sigh with each of his four misses.
Now he’s moving in and out of a series of cuts. It starts with a basic curl. Bang. Then he flares to the corner 3. Bang. Now he works off the curl, shot fakes, takes one dribble and slides the ball in off the glass. Bang. Another curl: this time he passes to the coach who set the screen on his invisible defender, reverses direction, runs around a hand-off and shoots. Bang.
His coaches feed him the ball with a shared stoic seriousness. When a ball boy fails to pass a rebound out on time, Snyder lets out a disgruntled bark and Korver stares at the delay without altering his expression or tensed body position until things get back on schedule.
Everyone else has been back in the locker room for nearly 20 minutes by the time Korver winds it down and jogs in.
A cynic could look at this sort of practice schedule and bust out the “You Had One Job” meme, but the dude is hitting 52 percent of his threes. He’s likely to cross over into triple digits when it comes to hitting a three-pointer in consecutive games, and I worried about jinxing Kyle Korver by writing something like that before realizing that it’s Kyle freakin’ Korver we’re talking about, and that stroke isn’t going away anytime soon.
Just as long as his teammates screen for him. Kyle Korver knows how this works.
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