Chicago Bulls 2010 Preseason: The "Plus-Minus" of Kyle Korver

Brian ChappattaCorrespondent IIOctober 6, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 08:  Kyle Korver #26 of the Utah Jazz shoots over Shannon Brown #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2010 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Kudos to you, Kyle Korver.

In the Chicago Bulls' first preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Kover made the strongest impression of any of Chicago's new acquisitions, pouring in 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting. He led the team in minutes played, and after the game Derrick Rose heaped praise on the sharpshooter.

I'm guessing that was before Chicago's star saw the plus-minus numbers.

Korver was a miserable minus-11 in that category, third-worst behind C.J. Watson (minus-15) and Brian Scalabrine (minus-14). Granted, the plus-minus numbers are going to be bad when your team loses by nine, but such a negative number shows something is wrong.

Which, of course, is that Korver can't play defense.

The plus-minus statistic shows the team's net points when that player is on the court. So when Korver played, the Bulls were outscored by 11.

Kurt Thomas, on the other hand, had no points and one rebound in 14 minutes of action and the Bulls were two points better when he was on the floor.

To be fair, the plus-minus numbers are going to be a bit out of whack in the preseason, because coaches are more concerned with balanced playing time and tinkering with the lineup. Yet it still shows a problem that's going to keep resurfacing.

How do you fit Korver into the lineup when he is a liability on the defensive end of the floor?

"He's got to keep working on his defense. If he plays smart, body position defense and he keeps the ball in front, we're going to be able to play him more minutes," coach Tom Thibodeau said, according to

In essence, he's a taller but slower version of Ben Gordon. With Gordon, taller guards could just shoot over him. But, they had a bit more trouble driving past him because of his speed.

With Korver, it's the exact opposite. Korver is tall for a guard and it's tricky to shoot over him, but he doesn't have good foot speed and his opponents can blow by him to the hoop.

So, like Thibodeau said, he needs to keep his man in front of him. That's it. If he does that, players like Luol Deng and Taj Gibson won't have to leave their men to help stop Korver's man.

Korver has not been able to do this in the past, but he's also on a new team with a new coach. He and the other players seem excited to take up the challenge of beating the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics.

If there's any chance of that happening, Korver is going to need to be a vital component. The Bulls needed to get shooters this offseason, and instead of getting a few, put all their eggs in one basket with arguably the best in the game today. 

So if Korver is on the floor, the Bulls have better shooting than last year.

If he's not, then the team is about as good as they were in 2009-2010.

One of the many things to follow as the preseason continues is if Korver shows signs of better defense. Maybe the plus-minus numbers will continue to be underwhelming, but if he's starting to keep his man from driving down the lane, it's going to pay dividends come regular season play.

Right now Korver is a one-trick pony. And as the adage goes, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Hopefully Thibodeau can provide some lessons for the Bulls' sharpshooter so he can stay on the floor. Otherwise, expect Korver's pluses to continue to be outweighed by his minuses.