Kyle Korver is making a lot of three-pointers this year. Even for him. After leading the League in three-point field-goal percentage last season, connecting on 47.2 percent of his attempts, the Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter has improved to a staggering 54.1 mark heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Houston Rockets. He has connected enough from long-range to tie Stephen Curry for most three-pointers made (72) and currently sits only a few points back of Courtney Lee for the NBA lead in three-point percentage.
The 11-year veteran is also exceeding his career-averages in each category with 12.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3 assists while helping Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and the Hawks open the season with an 18-7 record—good for third-best in the Eastern Conference. SLAM caught up with Korver to talk about the chemistry developing in Mike Budenholzer’s second season, searching out shots in his system, and feeding off two talented bigs like Al Horford and Paul Millsap.
SLAM: You’re really moving the ball well as a team and currently lead the NBA in assists at 25.8 per night. What are some of the reasons for that?
Kyle Korver: The system that Bud put in, that we’re continuing to try to get better at, a lot of it is built on chemistry. This is our second year with this system, the second year with him, and I think we’re starting to get it more and more. We still have a ways to go, but last year we definitely made some progress. Al got hurt, he missed a bunch of games, but having him and Paul together up front—how they’re able to mesh together—that’s a big part of who we are, them both clicking. And I think we’re getting to the point now where we’re more and more comfortable with the system. I think we still have a ways to go, we can still get a lot better, but we’ve got a pretty good start to the season so far.
SLAM: You’re also a top-five team in terms of both field-goal and three-point percentage. What is it about this system and group that’s helping you get so many good looks?
KK: Our whole offense, we want to play with pace and space. The more shooters you have, the more driving lanes there are. We have some guards who can really get into the paint and collapse things, and then everybody can shoot. Everyone has the green light to shoot an open three. They don’t want us to take bad shots, but everyone, 1-through-5 on our team, has the green light to shoot an open three if you have it. And if you have bigs who can knock down some outside shots, it just creates more space. There’s not a lot of teams that have knockdown bigs, but Al Horford, he is a knockdown 15-18 foot shooter. He’s done it for years and years. And Paul’s added the three-point shot to his game. He’s just gotten more confident with it. Mike Scott is an unbelievable shooter. Pero is a great shooter, Elton too, we all work on it. When we’re all clicking, and all hitting like that, good things can happen.
SLAM: Do you feel like you’re shooting the best you ever have in your career right now, and what is helping you improve on your league-leading numbers from last year?
KK: I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. My body feels the healthiest it’s been in a long time. Hopefully, the more you play, the more you shoot, the better you get [laughs]. So there is, like, that side to it. But I think the system is great for me. I get to search shots out a lot more. I can really come to the ball and try to get threes. And there’s a difference when you’re waiting for the ball to get to you, and when you’re searching a shot out. You see it a little bit differently, you know? I get to move a lot in this offense, and even if don’t get the ball, I can set screens, stay in motion, and that helps me with rhythm.
SLAM: You’re now 1-1 with the Cleveland Cavaliers on the young season. Have you learned anything about matching up with the Cavs during these first two games?
KK: I think we had a stinker the first game and they had one this last game. We’re going to play them a couple more times, and so I don’t want to come to any conclusions after two games. We’ve both shown that both teams can shoot and can get on a roll—I think they made their first 11 threes the last time we played. So I don’t know if either team wants to take too much from these two games. But any time you can get a quality win on the road against a good team it makes you feel good.