As we all know, Kyle Korver can shoot. As Comcast announcer Stacey King iterates, “He’s open as soon as he walks into the arena.”
The obvious concerns with Korver are if he can contribute anywhere else. Can he defend adequately enough to remain on the floor for 30+ minutes? Can he rebound? Can he find open men when his shooting begins to command attention?
Thus far this season, the answers to the above three questions are yes, yes, and yes.
We’ve specifically witnessed Korver reveal this versatility in the past five games. Since Rip Hamilton has been out with a groin injury, Korver has been the beneficiary of some major minutes. In the past five outings, not only has he averaged 13.2 PPG (on 54% shooting), but he has also contained athletic wings, rebounded when necessary, and dished out an array of impressive dimes.
With Korver’s ability to stretch the floor on offense, his improvements in other areas should be magnified. It makes the Bulls even more potent. He will never compare to Luol Deng or Ronnie Brewer on the defensive end, but his recent play is proving he can be adequate, which warrants him being on the floor all the more.
Last year, Korver often found himself in a role where he received spot minutes. He’d come in for spurts — run off a whole bunch of screens, swish a couple jumpers, get burned on defense, and then check out. He was a “spurt player.” The Bulls didn’t bank on him but if he was hot, it was a much-appreciated bonus.
In the Bulls first 12 games this season, Korver’s become more than a “spurt player.” His game appears to have broadened. It will be interesting to see how drastically his minutes decrease when Hamilton returns to the lineup. With Brewer playing exceptionally well and Hamilton possessing veteran poise, Korver could return to the spot minutes he’s grown accustomed to in his Chicago tenure. But the Bulls should wisely consider how they want to keep using him — specifically how much they want to keep using him. His signs of versatility will make it hard for the Bulls to only give him 10 or so minutes a night.
We know the Bulls rely on their defense and it’s working. Coach Thibs is going to stick with his gritty defenders on the wing (Deng, Brewer) as long as the offense isn’t overly compromised. But Korver shouldn’t disappear into the bench. He’s such a uniquely valuable player. Not many guys can provide a 9-0 run in a minute. His “hot sauce” shooting can make this happen, and as of now, the other areas of his game don’t appear to be decisively lacking.