Atlanta Hawks: Korver second on Hawks’ best in plus-minus rating

Vivlamore reporting.

Kyle Korver knows he’s never going to be considered a good defender by followers of the NBA.

The Hawks guard can live with that — even as one basketball statistic and a team-defense system suggest he’s better than given credit.

An analysis of the NBA’s plus-minus rating shows that Korver is second on the Hawks with at a plus-88. That means the team has scored 88 more points than it allowed with him on the court. Only Jeff Teague (plus-110) has better numbers in the statistical category through the team’s 34 games. Teague’s plus/minus rating ranks him 49th among all NBA players.

“I’ve always followed that stat,” Korver said. “My second year, (then 76ers coach) Jim O’Brien was my coach and he was real big into plus-minus. He got me onto it.

“Sometimes, it’s a little deceiving. It’s hard to use it on a game-by-game basis because it shows stuff but there are always (other circumstances). I think over the course of season, or over the course of certain stretches, I think those are telling signs. It’s good. You want to be helping the team. As a players when you are out there you want things to be going well.”

Korver is part of a Hawks’ five-man combination, along with Al Horford, DeShawn Stevenson, Josh Smith and Teague, that ranks 11th in the NBA with a plus-49. The Hawks also have the 15th ranked five-man combination with Lou Williams, Korver, Teague, Smith and Horford at a plus-44 rating.

Korver suggested that Smith is the only Hawks with the reputation as a good defender league-wide. Korver has been in this place before. He also points to the Bulls teams he was on that ranked No. 1 in the NBA in defense last season (88.2 points per game) and No. 2 in 2010-11 (91.3) with only Luol Deng and Joakim Noah known for their defensive ability.

“I’ve been very fortunate to play under really good coaches who taught really good team defense,” Korver said. “So, I understand that it’s never a great matchup for me one-on-one. I’m never going to pick up a guy full court and turn him three times before half court and pick his pocket, things like that. I feel like I know how to play good team defense. I’ve been coached very well. I’ve tried to be in the right spot and work the system.”

Despite their four-game losing streak, the Hawks as a team are scoring an average of 1.12 more points a game than the opposition this season. They are 14th in the NBA, the final team with a plus margin. The Thunder lead the NBA with as a team with a plus-9.06 per game average.

“I said at the start of training camp our mission, or our goal, is to become solid as a team,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “We will work as hard as we can as individuals but at the end of the day it’s going to depend on how we defend as a team. I think Kyle doesn’t get the credit he deserves as an individual defender but as a staff, when we sit down and watch film of our games, we see that this guy is in the right spots. He understands rotations. He understands spacing. He’s not afraid to make contact with a big guy rolling to the basket. He gets in there and gets his hands on a lot of balls when it comes to rebounding. He may not come up with them but he gets his hands on it which enables us to come up with it. I do think he’s an underrated defensive player.”

- Chris Vivlamore

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118 comments Add your comment

W.R.Terrell

January 11th, 2013
5:27 am

I can’t disagree with that, Kyle is always on his man and he’s generally not the one standing there watching as the man he guards cruises in for a layup. I’m not saying he does not get beat off the dribble at times, i’m saying at least he’s in position to offer some resistance.

[...] better than given credit. An analysis of the NBA’s plus-minus rating shows that Korver is Source: Atlanta Hawks – AJC Blog Share this: Cancel [...]

High-sider

January 11th, 2013
5:49 am

High-sider

January 11th, 2013
6:27 am

“I think Kyle doesn’t get the credit he deserves as an individual defender but as a staff, when we sit down and watch film of our games, we see that this guy is in the right spots. He understands rotations. He understands spacing. He’s not afraid to make contact with a big guy rolling to the basket. He gets in there and gets his hands on a lot of balls when it comes to rebounding. He may not come up with them but he gets his hands on it which enables us to come up with it. I do think he’s an underrated defensive player.””

Fundamentals?! Fundamentals?! We talkin’ ’bout Kyle Korver’s defensive fundamentals?! (in Allen Iverson’s voice)

Josh Smith made 2nd Team All-Defense for the 2009 – 2010 regular season. “Smoove” had a defensive rating of 101.4 (10th overall in the NBA) and 95.9 (5th overall in the NBA) for the regular seasons of 2009 – 2010 and 2011 – 2012, respectively, and we’re talkin’ about Kyle Korver’s defensive fundamentals (e.g., positioning, stance, rotations, spacing, deflections, physical contact, etc.)?! We givin’ “props” to a MFer for fundamentals?! I thought this was the NBA?! C’mon man, damn?! (in Allen Iverson’s voice, again)

Once he reads this article, Grandad will be on Cloud 9, 10, 11, 12…..100….200….300…..5,000….10,000….100,000….1,000,000……1,000,000,000……googol………..googolplex………………..infinity. (s+smh)

s+smh = shaking and scratching my head

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/smithjo03.html

RHCP

January 11th, 2013
6:27 am

High-sider

January 11th, 2013
6:42 am

Where was Korver’s defensive fundamentals on (in) the play (sequence) provided in the link below?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGnlW5bkSow (@1:22 – 1:28)

Buddy Grizzard

January 11th, 2013
6:55 am

Good stuff, C-Viv. I do, however, have to point out the validity of Najeh’s argument that much of Korver’s success in +/- rating has to do with the high number of minutes he plays with Josh and Horford. Those two in tandem have been the biggest difference-makers in leading the Hawks’ surprising defense. I know I know… escort service and all that. Horford gets exposed against a player like Pekovic but you underrate what he does against players his size and smaller.

So, even though I’m labeled Hinrich and Korver’s biggest fans, I acknowledge that Najeh is correct. Korver’s +/- numbers are absolutely padded by playing a lot of minutes with Josh and Al.

HOWEVER:

Korver is still a good defender. The problem is that Larry Drew and Danny Ferry have set him up to fail by asking him to guard Paul Pierce and other small forwards. Imagine how spectacular Korver’s defensive on/off numbers would look if he never had to guard small forwards.

Think how much better the Hawks’ defense would look if Horford hadn’t had all the aggressiveness beaten out of him early in his career by the two foul rule. Imagine how much better the Hawks’ defense would look if Josh made any effort to use proper rebounding technique and box out. As surprising as the Hawks’ defense has been, to me it’s still disappointing because it could be so much better with proper roster construction by Ferry and proper utilization of the available talent by Drew.

Imagine how much better the defense would look if Drew increased Zaza, Teague and Ivan’s minutes by 5 per game. Imagine how much better the defense would look if Drew sat Mike Scott and John Jenkins at the end of the bench until summer league.

Buddy Grizzard

January 11th, 2013
7:05 am

Also, I can’t remember if it was Grandad or someone else who posited that 5-man combinations are more valid than individual ratings when employing +/-, but I concur. As Najeh points out, Korver’s individual +/- total is absolutely skewed by the fact that he plays so many minutes with Hawks’ best defenders. I can’t pull up the 5-man combos on NBA.com but last I checked, 8 out of the Hawks’ top 9 5-man combos included at least two of zaza, al and josh. Zaza was part of at least 5 of the top 10 5-man combos. But LD keeps jerking his minutes around. Giving Zaza 5 more minutes per game on average would obviously make the Hawks’ defensive rating even better.

terrell

January 11th, 2013
7:08 am

James Nales

January 11th, 2013
7:44 am

Anyone excited about Marvin Williams coming to town? Just glad he is not in a Hawks uniform. Maybe he can take some of these present Hawks with him as he leaves town

doc

January 11th, 2013
8:12 am

buddy you need to go to 82 games for the info you may be looking for:

http://www.82games.com/1213/1213ATL.HTM

hot.trod.87

January 11th, 2013
8:13 am

James, shut up and show some decency. He was an exemplary player off the court who was picked by an organization that should’ve made a better decision. Its time to move on and focus on the further, BUT first thanking Marvin for his services

doc

January 11th, 2013
8:17 am

that site for individuals, has smith best, then korver, horford and teague 4th.

that site seems to fit with what i “see”.

doc

January 11th, 2013
8:19 am

and be thankful he is someone else’s player. agree with you though hot, sweet guy he is but growth in nba basketball stunted at age 21/22 when he maxed out.

vava74

January 11th, 2013
8:26 am

Buddy,

Agreed to most BUT you have been chastising JJ2 unfairly precisely because you have NOT been using the same 5-men ± criteria to evaluate him and instead focused solely on his individual ± stat.

For the same reason why KK’s ± stat is positively influenced by the 4 guys with whom he has been playing the most minutes with, JJ2’s ± stats have been negatively influenced by the substantially lower quality or worse combination of 4 guys who shared the court with him.

IE. if you played JJ2 in line up of Teague, JJ2, Josh, Al and Zaza, the kid would not look bad and the team production would be respectable, if not good. I am sure of it.

JJ2 has more offensive resources that KK and is definitively looking as a guy who is trying his best to improve defensively.

I don’t think he will ever be better than average as a defender but I definitively see him be slightly better than KK since he possesses better athleticism.

Just the other day he held position and stuffed Barea (granted that we are talking about a diminutive opponent), showing both the willingness to move his feet laterally and to keep his hands up on optimal defensive position.

Your pet-hatreds and pet-loves sometimes simply out-weight your ability to analyse at the game.

vava74

January 11th, 2013
8:28 am

vava74

January 11th, 2013
8:30 am

Buddy,

Because if you do not use that criteria, you can’t complain with LD for not using Ivan…

vava74

January 11th, 2013
8:44 am

doc

January 11th, 2013
8:45 am

i am more concerned with player combos. i dont see that or know how to create it on that site vava.

Section 303

January 11th, 2013
8:45 am

Good for Korver, I guess….I’m still not a big fan. I know what I see. When he is not hitting shots (which lately has been every game), he’s useless.

I remember the Hawks playing the Bulls in the ‘11 Playoffs. Korver was awful that series. Bulls fans were down on him. I expect the same to happen here. So, not going to crown him because his plus/minus is high.

Buddy Grizzard

January 11th, 2013
8:45 am

“JJ2 has more offensive resources that KK.”

Wow Vava, you’ve gone off the deep end here. I will grant you that JJ’s shooting stroke may be as good as Korver’s, which is a major statement since Korver is just outside of being top 10 in NBA history in 3p%.

HOWEVER:

JJ2 cannot get his shot off at the NBA level. He simply does not have all the tools and tricks to get open that Korver has. Also, JJ2 is about 6-1. He’s trapped in a point guard’s body and will never have the advantage of Korver’s 6-6 frame and high release point. I said before the season that JJ2 has not proven that he can guard anybody at any position in the NBA and he has not proven that he can get his shot off against NBA defense. That remains the case to this day. Not a “pet hatred,” just facts.

doc

January 11th, 2013
8:47 am

the player combos are influenced by number of minutes of course. ivan has not been on the court enough to evaluate in such a context. whatever he has done or not done has left him sitting more than i think reasonable. especially true as the team begins to sag because of fatigue and lack of energy in the dog days of the nba world.

Buddy Grizzard

January 11th, 2013
8:51 am

Thanks doc. So according to 82games, the top 12 5 man lineups for the Hawks each contain at least two of Al, Josh and Zaza and Zaza appears in 7 of the Hawks’ 12 best 5-man lineups. PLAY ZAZA.

http://www.82games.com/1213/1213ATL2.HTM

vava74

January 11th, 2013
9:00 am

Buddy,

JJ2 is not 6′1”. Saying that is a clear testament of your pet-hatred.

JJ2 is a rookie, still adapting to the speed and athleticism of the NBA game.

I already saw him pump fake, go left, shoot and hit shots in his limited daylight which is something KK2 CAN’T DO in spite of his 6′6” frame (funny that JJ2 gets a discount of 3 inches and KK only 1…).

I also saw JJ2 finish in traffic a reverse layup which is something NEVER saw KK do.

JJ2 will get there and the reality is the following: this is a transition year and to accelerate the evaluation and evolution of JJ2 is paramount over getting 3 or 5 more wins by not playing him any minutes. Nonetheless, I am not even granting that playing him substantial minutes will actually translate into losing 3 to 5 games, just that if that ended up being true, I would still accept it.

This team is going AT BEST to the second round of the playoffs.

I believe that we need to set our priorities straight.

MsDee

January 11th, 2013
9:02 am

Buddy Glizzard,

“Also, JJ2 is about 6-1. He’s trapped in a point guard’s body..”

UMM, JJ2 is NOT 6-1, he is 6-4. Have to disagree with ya. Jenkins has tad bit more skills than Korver if ya ask me. He’s a sharp shooter, like KK, but he also has a ’step-back” jumper that I have yet to see KK do. JJ2 has showed his dribble penetration as well. JJ2 just needs to be on the court with some ‘pass 1st’ PG that we dont have. Even tho JJ2 doesnt have the best skills at getting open for a pass, a pass 1st PG would find a way to get him the ball. Teague and Lou JUST dont have it!!

vava74

January 11th, 2013
9:03 am

But on playing Zaza and Ivan more minutes, I am sold.

vava74

January 11th, 2013
9:05 am

MsDee,

Teague may still be a work in progress but he is getting the job done MOST of the time.

It’s playing Lou at the PG slot that is murdering our offensive game (and his own game) most nights.

I understand that without Harris we are limited but Ferry should have brought Machado in for a 10-day contract whilst Harris was hurt to at least have another option.

doc

January 11th, 2013
9:08 am

buddy, i am not sure how the numbers are derived in 82games but the top four players also jives with what i think i observe. i have found their numbers reliable as a fan.

i am surprised lou’s numbers arent better as an individual and in combo. it may reflect the tougher minutes played in the fourth quarter. i have always wanted finishers rather than starters as the pressure is on then and body fatigue is ever present two huge factors in performance. it seems lou has preferentially gotten those minutes over teague when they are to be doled out between the two.

MsDee

January 11th, 2013
9:08 am

Either Josh or Horford SHOULD be on the court at ALL TIME..same goes for Zaza and Ivan. Hey YET to understand why Drew is NOT playing those guys at all time!!!

Jason S

January 11th, 2013
9:09 am

Josh is the best individual and “help” defender on the team. I am not sure how I would rank Josh as a team defender. He seems to know the rotations and defensive sets really well, and he is quick to bark at others when they miss their rotation or is not properly positioned in the set … but at the same time, he tends to cheat off his man a lot (especially when his man is hanging out on the perimeter). I don’t know if Josh’s “cheating” is part of LD’s game plan. If it is, LD needs to rethink this portion of the game plan. If it is not, then it appears that Josh is personally hurting team defense for individual highlights and stats.

Korver, though a bit lacking as an individual defender, is one of the best if not best “team” defender on the team.

Jason S

January 11th, 2013
9:22 am

Blog monster just ate a post …

eh, the tldr version

KK > JJ2 at this point in time (no question about it) if for no other reason that KK is one of the best in the league at moving without the ball. He gets open. He draws attention away from the *real* point of attack. He gets the defense turned around. He sets amazing screens (many times this season, two players at once!).

vava74

January 11th, 2013
9:29 am

MsDee,

I will further in saying that AT ALL times we should have on the floor a combo of three of the four guys you mentioned.

JOSH-AL-ZAZA (starting combo) and take it from there.

I was not a fan of the big line up and still consider that Al is playing soft and is exposed by both bigger C and quicker PF but I can’t argue with the fact that from a team point of view the big line up was getting it done.

hfc95

January 11th, 2013
9:38 am

uh oh rod from cp is not gona like this hah.

We better go back to jeff lou korver josh al tonight, especially with devin back now LD can afford to start 2 of our three primary PGs.

Two things will be the keys to victory tonight for the Hawks(and these two jewels of insight took a lot of thought)
1. Out rebound the Jazz, their strength is that 4 man rotation at PF/C with Millsap, Jefferson, favors, Kanter. We gota keep them from second chance oppurtunities.
2. Energy! If we dont score more than 44 by half I doubt we win. We need to take it to them early, not wait for the second half to turn it on.

hfc95

January 11th, 2013
9:41 am

and by saying rod from cp will not like this, i meant C-Vivs article about rods boy K.Korver and his “underrated D”.

kwooden1

January 11th, 2013
10:31 am

What I’ve seen over this losing streak is Jeff getting worn down on the defensive end and weak screen and roll defence. As a team, we’re not going to be a great defensive or rebounding team, but we need to do a better job than we have. Kyle is playing better defensive than I thought he would, but teams still target him for one-on-one matchups, which is a problem.

hfc95 I definitely agree that tonight the HAWKS have to start fast and keep up the pace. They play best when the keep the game moving and stay out of the half-court sets. I actually think our half-court offensive isn’t that bad, but our half-court defensive really isn’t that good. (especially the last few weeks)

GO HAWKS!!

O'Brien

January 11th, 2013
10:35 am

Buddy,

I remember when Bibby was here, and Teague would get inconsistent minutes. However, he would get those minutes with the Hawks bench players, and honestly, more often than not, he did not look that good. However, whenever he got minutes with the starters, he looked so much better.

I think it would be similar with JJ2. Imagine if he got to play with Josh and Al on the court with him for the majority of those minutes?

O'Brien

January 11th, 2013
10:38 am

FTPB,

Doc,

AJ said the same thing from before the season started. This is a transition year, so if the Hawks struggle, and miss the playoffs…that is not a bad thing, for the exact reasons you mentioned.

LD does not get resigned, Hawks get higher draft pick, and I would also add more minutes for JJ2.

Slimjr

January 11th, 2013
10:41 am

F.T.P.B.

“Have to correct perimeter D. Josh and Al had to help out a lot which leaves the paint open if Al is the center. Clear cut to the basket. That’s why Zaza is important. Need him in the paint so Josh and Al can help the perimeter. Also Korver doesn’t drive so he’s not working his defender. He’s a catch and shoot guy. Teague doesn’t move without the ball as a point guard. he’s not working his defender. Guards not playing much defense will not get exhausted where it’ll affect their offense. Errors by Larry Drew not to pick up. Pick up the fact that we need Zaza for rebounding. That we need Lou for consistent scoring. That we need Josh for rim protections.WE have to figure out why we need Teague and why we need Al. Find out what they bring to the lineup on a night in and night out basis.” -Hot.Rod.87-

Ironic both Teague and Al where shopped for D12 last summer allegedly. Their defense lately seems to mimic each others…[escort service]

Josh help defense is second to none [6 blocks] ..He helps everybody including the Allstar who says they have to defend better and play with more energy…..zzzzzzz

Have we not heard this b4?

BTW, the pressure is on Matt Ryan to show up and get his first playoff win..It is a must win for sure..The defense will show up I believe.. Good for Ryan and the offense..

Fascinating…

O'Brien

January 11th, 2013
10:45 am

kwooden,

I definitely agree that tonight the HAWKS have to start fast and keep up the pace..

And I think a big part of that falls on Jeff to push it. Too often he walks it up the court early in the game. Whatever happened to 18 seconds or less?

Najeh Davenpoop

January 11th, 2013
10:49 am

Like I posted on one of these blogs a couple of days ago, a big reason Korver’s plus/minus is so good is that he has only played 43 minutes this entire season without two of the Hawks’ top 3 big men on the floor. Anyone who plays 95% of their playing time with two of Josh, Al, and Zaza on the floor — and over 90% of their minutes with Josh — is going to look good in the plus/minus category. He has held his own but using plus/minus alone to say he’s a plus defender is a bit of a stretch.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 11th, 2013
10:50 am

“Despite their four-game losing streak, the Hawks as a team are scoring an average of 1.12 more points a game than the opposition this season.”

Over the last 14 games, the Hawks as a team are scoring an average of 3.1 points per game less than the opposition.

Rod from College Park

January 11th, 2013
10:52 am

“uh oh rod from cp is not gona like this hah.”

I actually like Korver a lot. Anything is better than Marvin Williams. If we had Korver last year or the year before with Joe Johnson I think we would have ended up in the Eastern conference finals. The thing with Korver is if his shot is not falling he is useless. The good thing about him is you can not cheat off of him ever because he is that good a shooter. Plus/minus, team defense all have their different meanings but the bottom line, (which is what I base my ratings on), is when teams face us in the playoffs, whoever Korver is matched up on, that team will know that they have an advantage offensively. That is how you determine whether a guy is good defensively. The playoffs change all that plus minus and team defense crap. If we play Boston, they will make sure to attack Korver, If we play Indiana, George or Granger will attack Korver, If we play Miami, whoever he matches up on Wade or Lebron, they will attack Korver, the Knicks will attack him with Melo or JR Smith…. He just does not have the lateral quickness to stay in front of the top wing guys. Has nothing to do with his effort or his BASKETBALL IQ, or if he knows where he is supposed to be. Korver’s plus minus number will continue to look good because he is on the floor with Josh (one the the best and most versatile defenders in the league), Teague, who was playing above average defense until recently, and Horford who plays good man defense, but might be the worse help defender in the league. I strongly believe that if you are not a good defender, you must pose a serious threat on the offensive side of the floor to be a good NBA player, and Korver fits that bill, along with guys like Lou Williams, Jamal Crawford.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 11th, 2013
10:52 am

Didn’t see Buddy’s post before I posted my 10:49.

Najeh Davenpoop

January 11th, 2013
10:56 am

“For the same reason why KK’s ± stat is positively influenced by the 4 guys with whom he has been playing the most minutes with, JJ2’s ± stats have been negatively influenced by the substantially lower quality or worse combination of 4 guys who shared the court with him.”

It also hasn’t helped that LD has often used him in situations where he is guarding an opposing PG, especially against teams that bring two PGs off the bench (like the Minnesota game the other day when he was checking Barea and Ridnour). Jenkins isn’t a good defender but putting him on players he clearly doesn’t have the quickness to defend does him a disservice, just like putting Korver on players who are too strong for him does him a disservice.

Slimjr

January 11th, 2013
11:00 am

Yes, that game last night between Portland and Miami in the 4th quarter was simply amazing basketball.

Nicolas Batum= 28 pts, 7[3 offensive reb], and 5 assists….An outstanding small forward who also plays tenacious defense.. He took it to Miami for sure!

Najeh Davenpoop

January 11th, 2013
11:01 am

” I don’t know if Josh’s “cheating” is part of LD’s game plan. If it is, LD needs to rethink this portion of the game plan. If it is not, then it appears that Josh is personally hurting team defense for individual highlights and stats.”

Can’t play help defense without “cheating” off your man at least to some extent. That’s a big reason why the Hawks are near the top of the league in forcing turnovers as well, because he (and Teague) step into passing lanes and deflect passes.

Slimjr

January 11th, 2013
11:13 am

“slimj my faux atl fan. you been fretting the falcons ryan and smith this week for us?

cant wait to see how that giant game turn out. and you? oh yeah they arent playing are they? still waiting on ring magic/dust, eh?

preciate your concerns on my home team tho, thanks.”

Chess pumpin already doc? They haven’t played their 1st playoff game yet this season for crying out loud…..LMAO!

This maybe their year but they will earn the trophy for sure..

Seattle-Greenbay-New England? Whew… Suggest you keep your money in your pocket…Your welcome…hehehe

vava74

January 11th, 2013
11:21 am

Co-signing Rod and Najeh over here but with a caveat!

Jamal never played ANY defense, individual or team and that was his most important negative. More than his shot selection.

Mike is Back

January 11th, 2013
11:22 am

Wow, even Marvin is looking forward to playing us.lol

When the Hawks lost their rhythm…they lost their mojo…most of that was due to injuries. LD was force to play guys out of their roles. LD needs to redefine guys roles and stick with it…quit playing Russian Roulette with lineup…already.

Also, why the heck do Zaza and Ivan have to struggle so hard to get PT???

vava74

January 11th, 2013
11:23 am

AND, contrary to KK, Jamal has the physical tools to be a good defender if he wanted to.