Milwaukee Bucks: Kyle Korver’s phenomenal longevity as a sharpshooter

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 28: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 28: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

In his 17th season in the NBA, and still delivering for the Milwaukee Bucks, Kyle Korver’s elite sharpshooting has held up better and for longer than almost every player who has ever played the game.

With the NBA season currently on hold, notable questions hang over the futures of veteran players around the league. Many will likely now get a chance to play again with the NBA’s plans of resumption, but what this downtime means for them beyond the current campaign remains to be seen.

One player who certainly fits that bill is Milwaukee Bucks‘ veteran wing Kyle Korver.

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Korver, who has enjoyed a stellar first season with the Bucks, turned 39 years old in March, and before the NBA’s progress toward a return to play in recent weeks, it was certainly valid to wonder whether he’d played his final game as a professional.

The former Creighton Blue Jay had looked to be in with a great chance of winning his first championship this season with the Bucks, and may still get that opportunity, but has already put together an incredible legacy that leaves little doubt to his status as one of the greatest shooters, particularly from deep, that the game has ever seen.

Korver is one of just nine players to have made over 2,000 three-pointers, and his total of 2,437 leaves him fourth in the all-time three-point field goal rankings. Of those nine players, only Stephen Curry and James Harden, in many respects the faces of the volume three-point shooting era, have crossed the 2,000 threshold while playing fewer minutes than Korver has.

A 42.9 percent three-point shooter for the entirety of his career, Korver’s numbers largely speak for themselves, but that doesn’t mean they all necessarily get the attention they deserve.

For example, what may be most incredible about Korver is his combination of consistency and longevity. Currently in his 17th season, Korver is averaging 41.5 percent on his 4.1 triple attempts per game in Milwaukee.

That is significant as, per Basketball-Reference, only eight players have ever managed to shoot at least 40 percent on over 50 three-point attempts in their 17th season in the NBA.

The 40 percent mark is largely viewed as a key indicator of a truly great three-point shooter, acting as a number that players who specialize in knocking down the long ball would strive to be above every year. Still, it’s not an easy task to actually do that against NBA defenses.

What’s even more difficult is to hit those marks over and over again, particularly as with each stellar shooting season, defenses will generally start paying even closer attention to a great shooter.

On that front, perhaps the greatest achievement of Korver’s career is the fact that he’s averaged over 40 percent from deep for 12 different seasons over the course of his playing days to date. The only player to have surpassed Korver in that regard is Steve Nash, who knocked down over 40 percent on his long shots in an incredible 14 seasons, again according to Basketball-Reference.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Korver has made 39 percent of his triples in three seasons, including 39.8 percent in 2015-16 and 39.7 percent in 2018-19.

In many ways, Korver has likely been taken for granted by NBA fans for quite some time. Korver was knocking down a phenomenal percentage of his three-point shots before that was afforded the level of value it now is, and then when the game’s three-point revolution did take hold, he ended up overshadowed by players who attempted a much greater volume.

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There’s every reason to believe that, based on his play this season, Korver could well be a positive contributor next year in his aged 40 season. If that happens, it would be hard to bet against him shooting 40 percent or better again too.