Kyle Korver: The Importance of Warming Up the Hot Sauce


Conclusions drawn from very simple statistical analyses are often tempting to believe, yet often questionable as well. One familiar example to readers of this blog would be the almost mythical: Bogans scores six – Bulls win! from last season. It is true that the team did win a high percentage of games in which Bogans was productive offensively, and it's easy to see why that might have been the case. But it is equally obvious that there was nothing magical about that threshold, as in the playoffs against Miami, Bogans scored only three points in the Bulls' blowout at home, six in one loss, and five twice in games in which one additional point would almost certainly not have led to victories.

Now and again last season, and even more so this season, I have been getting the impression that the Bulls' weren't creating enough shot opportunities for their designated sharpshooter, Kyle Korver. I didn't bother to look at actual numbers – it was just a suspicion.

But as Korver has been pressed into many more minutes of late, my earlier impression has been strengthened, and I thought it time to at least take a look at some basic numbers. Those numbers paint an interesting picture, though I suppose it could be argued that the sample size is on the small side.

Of the 26 games that the Bulls have played this season, Korver has shot four or less times in 12, and six or more in the remaining 14. When shooting four times or less, he is hitting at a dismal 24%; when taking six or more shots, his percentage vaults to 50%. Parsed another way, in the former category, he only shot 50% or better in two of 12 games; in the latter, the number was seven of 14 games.

I suppose an argument could be made that Korver was simply out of sync early in the season, and that when he has his stroke down, his numbers are likely to improve markedly even in low-touch games. But I doubt that is more than a contributing factor. I believe that designated shooters – whether Vinnie Johnson, Jason Terry or Kyle Korver – need to shoot more than a couple of times a game in order to really heat up. And in the case of the Bulls, I'd argue that even a superficial statistical analysis like the one above adds fuel to the notion that Thibs would be well-advised to create more shot opportunities for Korver, irrespective of minutes played.

After all, Hot Sauce is really only worth using when it brings (and hopefully later in the season helps to beat) the Heat.

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