Milwaukee Bucks’ fans rejoiced on Saturday when a Woj Bomb was dropped, announcing the team had come to an agreement with sharpshooter Kyle Korver. Korver was one of the most-coveted free agents remaining and a couple of championship contenders were chasing his services. Fortunately, the Bucks won out.
Everyone knows about Korver’s outside shooting, which we’ll dive into in a second, but he brings more than that to the table. In order to get a better understanding about what he brings, here are five categories where he can help the Bucks.
This is the obvious one. Korver fits perfectly in Mike Budenholzer’s five-out system mostly due to his ability to punish defenses from the outside. Whenever he’s on the court, his man won’t be able to leave his side without the fear of giving up three points.
Kyle Korver last season:— Bucks Film Room (@BucksFilmRoom) July 21, 2019
17th out of 93 players to attempt 300+
On catch-and-shoot 3s:
22nd out of 102 players to attempt 200+
He connected on a scorching 40.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes last year which ranked 22nd out of 102 players to attempt at least 200 such shots. However, that was a down season for him, as he made at least 46 percent of those in each of the previous two seasons.
Even when covered, his quick release allows the 16-year veteran to get his shot up in tight spaces. It doesn’t take much, but if Korver can get his feet set and his shoulders squared with the hoop it’s game over for the defense.
His off-ball movement can also be very tiring. When his number is called, he uses a collection of savvy veteran maneuvers to pry himself away from the defense and find just a sliver of an opening. His ability to even tie up one player will go a long way in creating more driving space for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Catch-and-shoot threes aren’t the only part of Korver’s outside game where he excels (although it’s his best). He can also knock down mini pull-ups and make the defense pay for selling out to stop the spot-up three. Don’t get me wrong. His pull-up game looks nothing like that of James Harden, Kemba Walker or Damian Lillard. It’s a much subdued version.
Korver mainly uses his dribble to create additional separation from his man when his trickery hasn’t quite created enough of an opening for him. Here, he comes off a dribble-handoff from Rudy Gobert without getting the necessary space to fire a three. In order to create that room, he uses a robotic dribble and jump stop to get to the top of the key. From there, he rises and fires. Yak Yak.
Most of his pull-ups come in this one-dribble variety and he made 49.3 percent of those shots last season. Don’t expect him to pound the rock all over the court. Instead, he’ll continue to use it as a calculated weapon to inflict as much pain on the opposing team as possible.
Korver hasn’t lasted in the NBA for 16 years by being a one-trick pony. He understands the gravity he brings as a shooter and can sometimes use it to find his open teammates. Although it doesn’t happen all the time, it’s certainly a tool he has in his belt.
Check out the three plays above. They all begin the same way with Jae Crowder bringing the ball up the floor and going into a dribble handoff with Korver. The sharpshooter also receivers a pick from Derrick Favors as well.
In the first cut, Favors’ man doesn’t step out high enough on Korver and he has enough space to take his patented one-dribble pull up and drain the three. In the second film, the big man’s defender makes up for the previous mistake and slides to the arc to prevent another three. However, Korver recognizes this and drops the ball into the vacated area and Favors throws down a vicious two-handed slam. In the third movie, Favors’ man steps up to contest Korver and this time a help defender sinks into the lane to tag the rolling power forward. Korver dissects all of this and finds Joe Ingles in the corner for a wide open three.
Korver has never been a good individual defender and that weakness is even more pronounced at 38-years-old. Nobody expects him to be able to slide his feet laterally and stay in front of even the most average wings. Fortunately, he doesn’t necessarily have to do so in order to fit in with Milwaukee.
He understands the defensive principles and is a good team defender. He’s smart, communicates well and is often in the right spot when it comes to helping his teammates. We get a little bit of everything in the following clip.
Tyus Jones begins with the ball on the right wing and is probing the middle of the court with his dribble. Korver is in good help position and deters the drive which forces Jones to kick it to Robert Covington on the other wing. Unfortunately, Korver gets put on skates and isn’t able to stay in front of his man on the close out.
This type of defensive result is common for the veteran. He plays fine team defense, but doesn’t possess the physical tools to be a good individual defender. Fortunately, the Bucks will have the likes of Robin and Brook Lopez as well as Antetokounmpo to clean up after him.
How He Fits In With Bucks
Korver is a great fit with Milwaukee and will only help take them to the next offensive level. His skills line up perfectly with Budenholzer’s five-out system and the basic offense they ran last season.
This play, called wide, is part of the Bucks’ generic offense they run every game. You can see the players running to fill the five perimeter spots on the court (two corners, two wings and the top of the key). As they’re doing this, Budenholzer is likely yelling out the play call.
After Sterling Brown brings the ball up the middle of the court he passes it to D.J. Wilson on the left wing. Brown then sets a wide pin down (hence, the name “wide”) for Khris Middleton. Middleton’s man unforgivably goes under the screen and he drains the open shot. Korver would be a lethal weapon in this type of flow.
Here’s another element of Milwaukee’s offense called Strong. Once again, the five players are spread out along the three-point line. This time, Middleton is bringing the ball up the floor on the left wing and passes it to Antetokounmpo who keeps it moving to Malcolm Brogdon. Antetokounmpo then sets the pick for Middleton who once again finds himself open for a three.
There are other variations Milwaukee runs out of these sets, but it gives us a good indication just how dangerous Korver can be on this team. Defenders will have to be attached to his hip for fear of allowing one of the best shooters in NBA history an open look at the most efficient shot in the game.
Although he’s an imperfect player, Korver’s strengths match perfectly with what the Bucks want to do on offense. As for his defensive shortcomings, well, the Bucks hope they can hide those with their terrific interior defense. At this point in the offseason, Korver’s signing is as good as it gets.