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Kyle Korver and his ability to defy the odds

Curtis Compton Tribune news service The Atlanta Hawks' Kyle Korver gets off a pass under pressure from the Indiana Pacers' Paul George, left, during the first half of Game 4 of an NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinal at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Indiana won, 91-88, to tie the series. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

By Ashley Wijangco

The average age in the NBA is 26.9 years old, so any player over 30 is considered old. At that point, NBA players are expected to be past their prime. Their game isn’t what it used to be, and they can’t produce the numbers they were once able to. But this isn’t the case for the Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver.

Korver is 33 years old and in his 12th NBA season. He’s coming off of one of his best seasons ever. He averaged 12 points per game and made a league-best 47.2 percent of his threes. That’s not to mention his true shooting percentage was a whopping 65.3 percent. In that same season, Korver demolished Dana Barros’ NBA record of 89 consecutive regular season games with at least one three-pointer made with a 127-game streak of his own.

Those achievements even helped land him a spot on USA Basketball’s training camp roster for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. He spent the summer at the camp, as the oldest player, and was named a finalist for the National Team before being cut from the final roster.

In a short amount of time, Korver achieved a lot of success, especially for someone who’s never been known as a star player. But this past season wasn’t his first taste of success.

Korver defied odds by going pro from Creighton University: He was selected at No. 51 in the 2003 NBA Draft. Korver scored 900-plus points in his second and third seasons in the NBA, and he had his lone 1000-point season in his fourth year. He also participated in the three-point contests during NBA All-Star weekend his first two years in the league.

After being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Utah Jazz, Korver really proved his status as an elite shooter. In his final season in Utah, he set an NBA record for the highest 3-point field goal percentage in a single season at 53.6 percent.

When Korver signed with Chicago as a free agent in 2010, he continued to prove himself by posting the third-best three-point percentage in Bulls franchise history, shooting 42.5 percent over the course of two seasons.

All of that gave him the reputation he has today as one of the best shooters in the league; it just didn’t solidify it.

When Korver first came to the Bulls, I didn’t know too much about him. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I hardly remember knowing who he was prior to his signing. I’m not sure I was even aware of his phenomenal shooting ability until he signed with Chicago. It didn’t take long for me to become a fan of his, though.

Growing up, I had the impression that the ability to shoot threes was the most important thing in basketball, so Korver quickly won me over by proving his status as a perimeter shooter. However, I felt he never got the attention he deserved for his shooting ability, even after his record-setting season with the Jazz. I always questioned why he wasn’t invited to participate in All-Star weekend’s three-point shooting contest — especially after having done so early on in his career — and why he didn’t get more national attention.

Korver doesn’t garner the same kind of attention LeBron James and Kevin Durant do, but he has received more of it as of late. And now, I realize why that is: playing time.

When Korver got to Atlanta in 2012, he was the primary starter at his position for the first time. In his first season as a Hawk, he started 60 of the 71 games he played in. The following season he started all 71 games he competed in. After not starting in more than seven games since the 2005-06 season, Korver made the starting lineup on a team he had just joined. It also marked the first time he played 2,000-plus minutes since the 2006-07 season.

The Hawks are only two games into the regular season, but Korver is already off to a fantastic start. He’s still a starter, is averaging 14.5 points and has shot 80 percent on threes. He’s well into his career, but Korver is a rarity. His prime is now, and this season is going to be another success.

Ashley is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at wijangc2@dailyillini.com and on Twitter @wijangco12.

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