"Kyle Korver is washed."
The above sentence represents a familiar refrain from some Atlanta Hawks fans. During the 2015-2016 season, Korver took a step back in terms of overall production and, at the age of 34, it was exceedingly reasonable to expect such a dip. However, the reaction was, at least at times, visceral when it came to Korver's inability to be flawless as a shooter, and for a player that many see as one-dimensional, the reports were damning.
Spoiler alert: Kyle Korver was still a positive player this season.
First things first, Korver did regress when it comes to three-point shooting, and that is easily the most visible way to assess his overall play. After leading the NBA in three-point shooting in back to back seasons (making 48.3% of his threes overall), Korver converted on only 39.8% of his attempts this season.
For the uninitiated, a 39.8% clip is still (very) good by any reasonable NBA standard, but it was exceedingly human for Korver and that must be said. A deeper look reveals, though, that Korver's "down" year from the three-point arc can largely be traced to one poor month.
In December, Kyle Korver made only 24 of his 82 three-point attempts (29.3%) and if we were to remove that month from the spectrum, his season-long performance would be a much more reasonable 42.5%. Obviously, every month matters, but much of the negative momentum regarding Korver came to light during this extended slump and, somehow, it stuck.
For better or for worse, three-point shooting is how Korver is defined, however, and making "only" 40% of his threes greatly limits Korver's overall impact. Still, he is the only member of the Atlanta Hawks roster that regularly commands extra attention in order to prevent his shooting, and that has been very visible in each of the last two postseason stretches. "Gravity" is a word that has become vogue in NBA circles, and aside from the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Damian Lillard, you would be hard pressed to find anyone in Korver's realm in this area.
Korver has been a divisive figure for his overall contributions outside of shooting, particularly on the defensive end. In the interest of full disclosure, I have regularly been a defender of Korver's ability on the defensive end, with the caveat that, yes, he isn't a dominant figure in this regard.
From an individual standpoint, Korver presents great size and length on the defensive end, allowing him to be a reasonable defensive rebounder and a quality help defender. Obviously, he lacks the pure athleticism to stick with high-end wings, but Korver is usualy in the right place, and "hands havoc Korver" is a real thing in that he uses his hands effectively for deflections and general disruption. In the team concept, Korver's defense has not been a problem at all, as the Hawks allowed only 98.1 points per 100 possessions in his 2,401 minutes of court time in 2015-2016.
The movement that Kyle Korver "isn't a starter" or that he "must" come off the bench from now on is, well, silly. In an ideal world, Korver would probably be best utilized as a bench shooter at this stage, but he certainly isn't anywhere near the bottom rung of NBA starting swingman, and given the presence of a full off-season to prepare (something he did not have before 2015-2016 as a result of two surgeries), it is thoroughly reasonable to expect something of a bounce-back despite his considerable age.
Korver is a darling of advanced stats that value shooting and, especially, his impact on the rest of the offense by forcing the opposition to extend defensively. This is something that Atlanta values greatly through the prism of having limited shot creation outside of the point guard position, and Korver's contract is exceedingly valuable in that it declines yet again as he makes just over $5 million in 2016-2017.
This is an example of a player who is unquestionably past his prime, but Kyle Korver probably isn't going anywhere, and he certainly provides positive impact when he plays. That's valuable.