He’s literally and figuratively their best shot at making a splash with the East's elite.
However, simply sustaining his 100 plus game shooting spree won’t be enough to keep Atlanta near the top of the Eastern Conference.
Sounds crazy, but he’ll need to improve. Go figure.
Tell the best shooter in the league to shoot better. Better yet, tell the NBA’s most consistent three-point threat to be more consistent.
Sorry Kyle, but 104 games in a row just doesn't cut it.
All jokes aside, Kyle Korver’s shooting directly correlates to the Hawks’ success over their last two seasons. With or without Al Horford, the Hawks win nearly 56 percent of their games whenever Korver sinks a trey.
Think about the return on that investment. When the Hawks exclusively invest in Korver’s three-point shooting, they get a 56 percent return.
That’s a stockbroker’s dream.
According to the Examiner.com’s Chris Cason, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer is beginning to understand Korver’s value:
We all appreciate what he can do. Now, I think the attention that he gets defensively and he still manages to get open and make tough shots. His professionalism and work ethic are off the charts. Until you’re around someone like that every day, I don’t think you can really appreciate it from a distance, but now I really do.
Like opposing defenses, Atlanta's offense needs to refocus itself on Korver.
The Hawks are 15-8 this season when he nets at least two three-pointers and 13-9 when he puts up at least five three-point attempts.
It’s not rocket science, folks. When Korver shoots more (and makes more), the Hawks are a better squad.
At the very least, more outside jumpers create more opportunities for long rebounds. This allows teams lacking an inside presence (like Atlanta) to compete better for boards and loose balls.
The Hawks' paint presence went out the window when they lost Al Horford last month. Frankly, his injury was the worst thing that could’ve happened to them this season.
I hate to say it, but don’t expect Pero Antic to be the answer for Atlanta. Also, Elton Brand isn’t so spry anymore.
Obviously Horford’s absence exacerbates the Hawks’ dependency on Kyle Korver’s shooting. Korver just hasn’t delivered.
Of course, he’s sustained his three-point streak throughout this span, but the Hawks need quality and quantity right now.
One three per game will not keep an early offseason away in Atlanta. It’s really that simple.
Can Atlanta hold onto the third seed in the Eastern Conference?
In order for the Hawks to stay with the Eastern Conference’s best, Atlanta needs to create more chances for Korver, and he needs to deliver.
In wins, Korver’s shooting 50 percent from behind the arc, which creates better looks for his teammates.
Jeff Teague gets more space to operate in the backcourt. Paul Millsap doesn’t get matched up with the other squad’s best defender all game. Louis Williams can continue to come off the bench (his specialty). John Jenkins and DeMarre Carroll get better looks at the basket.
There’s no denying the domino effect here.
With a little help from his friends, Korver should play a vital role in keeping the Hawks afloat in 2014 without the epicenter of their team.
No, he’s not exactly the “next man up” per se, but Atlanta’s ability to get him more touches and Korver’s ability to take advantage of an expanded role could make or break the Hawks’ season.
Expecting the Hawks to finish near the top of the Eastern Conference without Horford is probably a long shot.
Then again, isn’t that what they’ve got Kyle Korver for?