The Doctor of the J will see you now.
That might be a slight exaggeration, but when Kyle Korver diagnoses a possible issue with a fellow players’ jump shot, he likely has the remedy. The Hawks’ sharp-shooting guard is an expert dispenser of basketball knowledge — the way Jack Nicklaus might help with a golf swing or Nolan Ryan could add miles per hour to a fastball.
He speaks from the experience of a lifetime spent perfecting his own shot into one of the better in the NBA. When Korver talks about shooting, well, players listen.
“If a guy didn’t have his track record it would be tough to take any shooting tips from him,” said Paul Millsap, who has extended his shooting range with help, in part, from Korver. “He’s a special, gifted shooter. You’d be a fool not to listen and take that advice.”
Korver has helped a lengthy list of current and former teammates. Korver has led the NBA is 3-point field-goal percentage in a season three times, including the past two with the Hawks. Korver said he might notice something in a players’ shot during a game, warm-ups or practice. It comes from being a student of the game.
“The last few years, people have asked me more questions,” Korver said. “If I see something in somebody, if it’s something similar in my shot, I feel like it’s the same type of thing in life. People who tell you what to do all the time or have all the answers for you, it’s like ‘OK, whatever.’ But if you’ve gone through something in life you can speak to something a little more.
“I only try to talk to people about things I really do use in my shot. If I see something similar and something that will help them, then you try to come to them and say ‘I think I might have something for you. Think about it if you like it.’ If they do and they want to keep talking about it then I will.”
Dennis Schroder spent a week this summer in California with Korver working on the young point guard’s shot. Lamar Patterson got a shooting tip during training camp that proved invaluable. Kent Bazemore spent most of last season rebuilding his jump shot, and Korver was one of his resources.
Patterson said Korver noticed that it might be beneficial if he spread his fingers wider on the ball.
“I don’t want to be a burden on Kyle,” Patterson said. “He has so many other things to worry about. He told me to spread your fingers more. That was a real good one because I never thought of that. I never heard of it. I was like ‘OK, if Kyle Korver is telling you that, you have to try it.’ The first time I tried it was in training camp. I knocked down like 10 shots in a row. I said ‘Anything else?’”
Korver wants to be clear. He’s not the coach. He quickly credits time spent with Hawks assistant Ben Sullivan, the team’s primary shooting instructor. While Korver might offer suggestions, it is Sullivan who is there day-in and day-out working on mechanics.
“He does a great job, and he’s helped a lot of guys,” Korver said. “I feel like he and I can tag-team a little bit with guys. This is what he does every day. I can give them something, if they want it, and Ben can work with them on a daily basis. It’s a good combo. And he’s a coach, and he’s better at verbalizing things.”
In California, Schroder was shown video of Korver when he played for the Jazz. The images were stunning — to Korver. Remember, he set the NBA’s all-time record for 3-point percentage in a season while with the Jazz, shooting 53.6 percent from long-range in 2009-10.
“Dennis gets loose and he falls forward. If you watch him on the pick-and-roll and he pulls up on the elbow, he’s so tight and strong. It’s his best shot — by far. We talked about how do we get that shot from (3-point range).
“I showed him some stuff from when I was shooting in Utah. It was gross. It was so sloppy. It was all about feel and rhythm and my mechanics were so (bad). I’ve spent years trying to tighten that up. That’s what I tried to show Dennis. I had to tighten my shot up. The less room for error, the better your percentages are going to be and the more consistent you can be.”
Former Hawks guard John Jenkins said Korver taught him to be smarter with his practice time. Better to shoot 100 shots with perfect form than 1,000 just for the sake of shooting.
Korver added he is a beneficiary of the work as well. Such instruction gives him a chance to go over and tighten his mechanics. Also, the more shooters on the floor the more room for him to operate. It’s a two-way street.
“I’m just trying to be a good teammate,” Korver said.
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