With the 51st pick in the 2003 draft, the New Jersey Nets drafted one of the greatest shooters of all time but decided to sell Kyle Korver’s draft rights to the Philadelphia 76ers for $125,000. Nets GM Rod Thorn used the money to cover Summer League expenses and buy a brand-new copy machine. The Nets were just the first in a long list of teams that now regret dealing Korver who continues to shine.
Throughout his career, Korver has been one of the most consistent three-point shooters in the league. He shot under 40% from three in only four of his seventeen seasons. He led the league in three-point percentage for four seasons. In the 2009-2010 season with Utah, Korver lit the league on fire, connecting on an outstanding 53.6% of his three-point shots, a career high.
He has also been a great free throw shooter as well, leading the league in free throw percentage in the 2007 season. He made the All-Star team in 2015, purely based on his shooting and his contributions to a 60-win Atlanta Hawks team.
While Kyle Korver can give you nightmares on the court offensively, he is a defensive liability, mainly because of his slow foot speed. Korver struggles to guard quicker players, resulting in opponents hunting out Korver and attacking him. He also doesn’t get many steals, unlike other guards who find a way to intercept passes even if they lack good on-ball defense. Korver averaged over 1+ steal per game twice in his career.
His basketball IQ is off the charts. He studies and understands the game, which benefits his off-ball defense. Very rarely does he fall asleep and give up easy baskets, as he is always alert. He is a great help defender and understands when to help off the weak side and when to stick to the shooter on the strong side.
Mike Budenholzer, Korver’s coach in Atlanta, said “He’s a really good team defender.”
He was never a lockdown defender or a rim protector, but Korver’s understanding of the game helped him stay on the floor in crunch time.
Korver has also been a model teammate and a great leader on every team he has been on. His former teammate LeBron James spoke very highly of Korver during the Eastern Conference Finals this year, telling the media:
“I’ve loved Kyle ever since we made the trade to get him here…He’s just a true professional…You see him every single day just putting the work in, putting his mind, putting his body into it.”
Korver also has the makings of a shooting coach when he decides to retire, as he has already worked on improving his teammates jump shots, helping players like LeBron James and Tristan Thompson.
Kyle Korver grew up in California as a fan of the Showtime Lakers, with legends like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar influencing Korver to pursue basketball. His mother, Laine Korver, played basketball in high school and once scored 74 points in a game. She gave Korver advice that he remembers to this day.
“Kyle, if you look at the front of the rim, you hit the rim. You look at the back of the rim, you hit the back of the rim. Look just over the front of the rim, and the ball goes swish.” (Laine Korver, mother of Kyle Korver)
Korver came from a family of basketball players, as his father and four uncles played Division III basketball in college. His three younger brothers all played Division I college basketball, as well as a female cousin who played at UCLA.
Korver remembered how his family would play 5 on 5 on holidays. Kris Korver, Kyle’s brother, said, “We all really love basketball. We love to compete. We love building up men and teams. That is the most common theme in our family. Basketball was just our tool.”
Nothing keeps Kyle Korver from competing and playing the game he loves. Except family. He took a leave of absence from the Cavaliers during March, as his brother Kirk Korver was extremely ill. On March 20, Kirk tragically passed away, leaving Korver in a grieving state. After spending time with his family, Korver returned to basketball right before the playoffs and was a vital piece in the Cavaliers beating the Indiana Pacers in the first round, as Korver shot 40% from three and hit many clutch shots.
Kyle Korver grew up in a family of church pastors. His father, Kevin Korver, is a pastor in Pella, Iowa. His family had such a huge religious impact on his life, it led Korver to create many charitable organizations. The Kyle Korver Foundation began in 2007 and has been helping the community ever since.
When Korver played for the 76ers, he started a coat drive for children in need. He then added a new line of clothing called “Seer Outfitters” to help the underprivileged, and when he played for the Atlanta Hawks, he started an annual sock drive for the homeless in Atlanta.
Kyle Korver is a legend in the NBA, not because he is fourth all time in 3-point shots made, or sixth all time in 3-point percentage, and not because he is one of the greatest shooters of his generation. He is a legend because of the work he does for the underprivileged and the work he puts in to excel on the court.