How Kyle Korver Is Making Long Twos Sexy Again
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Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens once said of Kyle Korver:
"You have to treat him like he averages 30 (points per game), or else it could be 30."
The other 28 opposing head coaches around the NBA likely share the same sentiment.
Being the focus of defensive schemes means Korver doesn't always get to take as many shots as he and his coaches would like, even as the attention paid to him opens up opportunities for his teammates.
This season though, Korver has found extra attempts by using the long two-point shot. Last season, he took just 14.9% of his shots from 16 to 24 feet. This season, that percentage has almost doubled: 27.3%.
Korver sees the shot's use as a means to get extra attempts.
"I'm trying to get more shots," Korver said. "I'm really being guarded hard on the three-point line. There's just not a lot of space to pull up from three a lot of time. I'm trying not to overdo it. I have no idea what the percentages are, but I feel like I'm shooting them okay."
Shooting them okay would be an understatement. Korver has made 50% (22/44 FG) of his long twos on the season, a percentage typically associated with elite mid-range marksmanship.
A common sight for Hawks fans this season has been Korver sprinting around a screen or running to catch a dribble handoff near the three-point line. His defender typically chases him "over" the screen, meaning that the defender follows Korver's path on the side of the screener furthest from the hoop. When defenses do that, he can find a sliver of daylight for an attempt by taking one step toward the hoop before shooting.
The increase in mid-range shots holds another advantage too. Korver says taking mid-range shots keeps his shot volume higher, which helps him keep a feel for his jumper.
"I need to keep on getting shots to try to find rhythm and stay in rhythm," he said.
The long two-point shot isn't terribly in-vogue in the NBA these days. Most teams seek three-pointers and shots near the rim. The math says that a shooter who can make 4 out of 10 three-point shots scores more points than one who make 5 out of 10 two-pointers. At the same time, putting the midrange shot in the hands of an artist like Korver keeps defenses moving, scores points at an effective rate, and gives opponents one more thing to be anxious about.
"It's another way to find shots," Korver said of his long twos, "and hopefully if I knock down a few of those, then people will get more worried about that."
Story by KL Chouinard