Welcome to the Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations! Similar to last year’s series, we’ll take a look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what do they do that helps (Boon), what do they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).
The Milwaukee Bucks won the offseason battle for Kyle Korver’s services before 2019-20, besting the Philadelphia 76ers in the race for the near 40-year-old. Given his background with Bud in Atlanta, it wasn’t a massive surprise, but it seemed like an ideal fit to pair his elite shooting with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s paint domination. Korver got more run than I anticipated, especially in the Playoffs, but never felt quite like he had the single-game scoring spree that could turn a contest that we hoped for upon his arrival.
Korver’s Boon: Knockdown Shooter
When you have a 39-year-old player whose played nearly 20 seasons like Korver, there’s few boons to illustrate beyond the singular skill that’s kept a player like that around this long. Korver performed as advertised: 41.8% on 8.9 3-point attempts per-36. With 80.9% of his shots coming from deep, that was the highest percentage of his career.
Bud had a singular goal in mind for Korver, and he didn’t waver from it. Korver paired most frequently with Giannis in lineups throughout the year. Bud tried to maximize the shooting around his superstar, and Korver fit the bill more than any other player on the roster.
Korver’s Bane: Defense
We saw it enough in the Playoffs. Creaky Korver, even with his length, and Bud’s conservative approach for him when put in pick-and-rolls, just couldn’t do battle with offensive players with the athleticism of Miami’s wings. We did get to see some old-man tussles between him and Andre Iguodala in that series, where Korver mainly just had to recover before Iggy could get his shot off, but that was about the only player Bud must’ve felt comfortable having Korver guard. He’s certainly not the reason the Bucks went down in the Miami series, but he’s precisely the type of player an opposing coach like Spoelstra can target any time he’s on the floor. His minutes started to diminish as the series went on.
Does Korver Belong?
It’s nearly impossible to find someone with Korver’s level of shooting that’s available at a bargain price tag. Obviously his play comes with caveats on the defensive end, but the threat of Korver’s shooting can still bend the floor in useful ways on the offensive end. If Korver decided to give it one more go next year, the determination Horst would have to make is whether his offensive performance could offset any issues he has on defense, particularly in the Playoffs. I don’t think the calculus is that difficult. Even with his clear value as a floor spacer, I think Horst may look at this year’s exit and see a necessity to upgrade the athleticism surrounding Giannis.
Korver offers a pretty clear example of some of the deficiencies with how Horst built the roster to this point. For all the discussion about Bud wanting players who can pass, dribble and shoot, Korver is certainly capable of at least making smart passing and shooting, but he doesn’t really offer anything beyond his singular skill. His lack of dynamism is symptomatic of how most of the Bucks backcourt players outside of George Hill, Eric Bledsoe and Donte DiVincenzo offer nothing more than shooting. At least Korver is an elite shooter, unlike most of the Bucks, but the team needs more change-up guys out there. If they can stack the roster with a few more of those, then maybe Korver will have a place as a marksman.