Signing the 38-year-old veteran was Jon Horst’s smartest free agency move; Korver ready to thrive in Coach Bud’s system
By Tyler Job
The NBA community might as well call Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst a genius.
After re-signing Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and George Hill, as well as adding Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA Executive of the Year did not stop there.
Instead, he continued his wave of savvy signings, this time officially locking in one of the game’s best 3-point shooters of all-time in Kyle Korver to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal worth about $2.7 million July 25. With Korver now a part of a completely loaded Bucks squad, he only effectively adds to the “let it fly” scheme in Milwaukee.
Korver for his career is a 42.9 percent 3-point shooter, which ranks second-best all-time behind Steph Curry’s 43.6 percent. Korver also ranks fourth all-time in total 3-pointers made, behind Curry, Reggie Miller and leader Ray Allen.
Korver’s shooting last season dwindled slightly, but he still averaged 39.7 percent from downtown and put up about nine points per game off the bench after spending time with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz.
The former Creighton star’s ability to hit the three is exactly what head coach Mike Budenholzer wants: surround Giannis Antetokounmpo with as many shooters as possible so that he can get spacing and demolish the competition. If Korver is a distraction with Giannis on the floor, that just spells more doom for whoever defends the Greek Freak.
Not only does Korver bring abundant 3-point shooting, but he also brings in a lot of experience the Bucks lacked a year ago. Korver is 38 and has had 13 playoff runs in his 17-year NBA career, including two NBA Finals runs with the Cavs. Not too shabby.
Milwaukee last year started last season as a team full of very good players with not very much playoff experience. Horst helped that cause a little by trading for Hill last December and Pau Gasol in February. But, Gasol barely played, so the only player on the court for the Bucks in the playoffs with a lot of experience was Hill, and he was one of Milwaukee’s best players during that run.
Korver only adds to that playoff experience, and that will surely help the Bucks’ core players develop stronger when it matters most.
Some tend to forget that the 38-year-old once played for Budenholzer as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, and played some of his best hoops under Coach Bud. He averaged 12 points per game and 47.2 percent from three in Bud’s first year as Hawks head coach in 2013. The following year, Korver secured his first and only All-Star selection while averaging a slightly better 12.1 points per game and 49.2 percent shooting from downtown.
The more underrated aspect of Korver’s game is his passing. He’s averaged 1.7 assists per game throughout his 17-year career, and for a straight-up shooter, averaging about two assists per game is not a bad statistic.
Korver has never really been a strong defender, but he is more of a team defender and relies on the rest of the teammates to force turnovers. He’s only averaged 0.7 steals per game up to this point, but Korver is on a squad loaded with lock-down defenders that should alleviate pressure on him to come up with defensive plays of his own.
However, Korver was not brought to Milwaukee to be a top-notch defender, no. It’s his top-notch shooting that the Bucks needed to ensure they remain in serious contention for a championship.
With Korver now on an arguably improved Bucks team, he joins the list containing Hill, Matthews, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, Sterling Brown, Ersan Ilyasova and Donte DiVincenzo as all go-to shooters if needed.
It appears as though the Bucks are ready to “let it fly” on a whole new level.