With Dwayne Wade choosing to rest his hamstring injury over the next few weeks, Kyle Korver has been named his replacement for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game. Most people won’t bat an eyelash at a last minute roster replacement like this, but to stat-head NBA fans like myself, this is incredible. I don’t think a player widely considered a 3-point specialist has ever made the All-Star game (as far as I know), and deserved it as well.
As of February 10th, Korver is shooting .528% from 3 point range on about 5.8 attempts per game over 52 games. That is an absurd figure and even more absurd when one learns that he’s taken 303 3 point attempts this season. Of all the players who have taken 200 or more 3PA this season, the next highest 3-point % is Klay Thompson who has shot .441% on 345 attempts this season.
It’s also crazy when considering that his 2P FG% is at .482%. His 3P% is pulling his regular field goal % up!! Has that ever happened on a scale of this magnitude before? Korver also has a .736 True Shooting % (measure of shooting efficiency accounting for 2-point FG, 3-point FG, and free throws), which is only the best in the NBA. Coupled with a .920 FT% and a .516 overall FG%, Korver is on pace to have the first ever .50/.50/.90 season in the NBA. Oh yeah, he’s not a bad wing defender either. What makes this all so confusing is that he’s 33 and now in his 12th NBA season. I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head (Kurt Warner?), but has a professional athlete ever had their best season in the 12th year of their career?
The Atlanta Hawks are the best team in the Eastern Conference and only second to the league-leading Golden State Warriors. They are sending four players (along with worthy All-Stars Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford) to the All-Star game and look to be a Finals favorite. What makes Korver (and by transitive property, the Hawks) so good? Due to Korver’s incredible season, he’s drawing a lot more attention from defenders. An underrated passer, defenders find themselves giving him less and less room, and he often makes them pay. Rotations move faster and the help D is sliding out toward the 3 point line, so when Korver does touch the ball off a screen or the pick & pop, he finds his shot and/or dishes it to the open man. Either way, the Hawks are scoring and doing it efficiently. The Hawks have a 114.8 offensive rating when Korver is on the floor this season. That number drops down to 101.1 when he steps off to the bench (if you don’t believe me, please consult the chart below). That’s a +13.7 net rating and helps show just how crucial he is to the team’s success (and just how good the offense can be).
So I salute you Kyle Korver. You made the All Star game by not being a flashy or big name player, but by hard work and perfecting your craft. I wish you the best of luck and I’m (probably) rooting for a Hawks finals appearance this year. If you enjoyed this piece, here’s my other thing I did about basketball. If not, please feel free to leave a mean-spirited comment below. As always, Tupac rest in peace.