If anyone's ears are ringing in the current lineup of the Chicago Bulls, it's those of small forward Kyle Korver. The 29-year-old Creighton product has appeared in all 18 games so far this season, and has a .447 field goal percentage (.407 from behind the arc). In short, he's one of the best outside shooters on the team -- and fans want to see more of him.
It's really not surprising that Korver is playing off the bench on a Tom Thibodeau team. Coach T has been clear since his arrival that he was going to stress defense, and that's evidenced by how the Bulls' units are set up. Korver generally isn't considered a strong defender. He can often be easily outpaced by the faster shooting guards in the league.
So Thibodeau's approach is clear and perhaps understandable: Keep the defense strong in the first unit and bring Korver on for an offensive punch when the starters need a rest. Problem is, Coach T's defense-first philosophy may be hurting the team in the long run.
We saw the Bulls get blown out mightily by two very good teams -- the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics-- last week. Maybe they could've at least kept those games a little closer if Korver had been a starter. Granted, the Bulls still may have lost, but blowouts like those don't just hurt your morale, they hurt your confidence as well. It did take a Derrick Rose buzzer-beater to force an OT against the relatively weak Houston Rockets in the following game on Saturday night.
Plus, in playing the role of a leading scorer for the second unit, Korver is forced to create his own shots. That's not his strength -- he doesn't handle the ball particularly well or, as mentioned, move with great speed. How many more points would the Bulls score if DRose could repeatedly kick the ball out to Korver on the perimeter for an open three? Many points, methinks.
In all fairness, there are legit arguments to leaving Korver on the bench. The defense should get at least a little better once Carlos Boozer is a little stronger on the floor and more comfortable with the team's rhythms. Plus, another big reason fans have been crying out for Kyle's ascension is that shooting guard Keith Bogans has such a disappointment. He's shooting only .382 and a paltry .269 from the three-point line. Both of those should move back toward his career averages (.394/.349) with time.
So maybe we're all just panicking a bit as we long for that scoring presence that would seem one of the last pieces in the puzzle for an exciting Bulls team. But, still, I've had a good feeling about Korver from the get-go and would like to see him get his shot as a starter.
The Bulls play Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at 7 pm (Central) at the United Center.