Kang Isul has joined hands with KB again. One of the biggest names in this year’s free agency market, Kang Isul has chosen to stay with KB, signing a new three-year contract.
Over the past two years, KB and Kang-isul have laughed and cried, with the team achieving their goals in their first year together with a dominant performance to win the title, but falling short last season in an uncharacteristic collapse for the defending champions. Let’s take a look at the last two years for KB and Kang Yiul, and what the next three will bring.
The first season when everything was perfect
19 April 2021. The league’s best three-point shooter, Kang-iul Kang, left Hana OneQ for KB in free agency, looking for a new challenge. After winning the ‘Kang-isul signing battle’ that saw four teams compete for the player, KB officially announced the signing of Kang-isul amidst much fanfare.
At the time, Kang’s salary totalled 390 million won. At the time, it was the largest transfer in history. With the addition of Kang-iul to super ace Park Ji-soo, who dominates the league beyond KB, KB quickly became one of the favourites to win the title as a ‘national one-two punch’.
This was not without its concerns, as KB had barely spent the off-season with Park Ji-soo due to her national team commitments to the United States. There were questions about whether Park Ji-soo and Kang Yi-eul, who worked well together on the national team but had virtually no chance to work together on the club team, would be able to create the synergy that was expected.
But from the first game, KB’s one-two punch erased those doubts. In their opening game against Samsung Life, KB avenged last season’s championship loss with a 68-59 victory. While Park Ji-soo was solid under the basket with 22 points and 16 rebounds, Kang Yi-seul also had 18 points and six rebounds to complete her first game in a KB uniform.먹튀검증
Since then, KB has dominated the league. Nine straight wins after the opener, and then another 14 straight. After establishing their dominance early on, KB clinched the regular season title after just 24 games, setting a new record for the shortest amount of games won in a single league.
Kang averaged 18.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in her first season in a KB uniform. She shot a whopping 42.9 per cent from three-point range. That’s a five per cent increase from the 37.9 per cent he shot the previous season.
Records and awards followed. On 31 December 2021, he became the youngest player in history to reach 600 three-pointers in a game against Samsung Life, and at the end of the regular season, he was named to the BEST 5 alongside Park Ji-soo, and also won the 3-point scoring and 3-point shooting awards.
Led by Kang-isul, who seamlessly integrated into the team from her first season, KB continued its ‘absolute number one’ streak in the playoffs. After defeating Woori Bank in the championship final in just three games, KB won the overall title and added a second star to their jersey. Kang Isul, who joined KB with a desire to win, made a crucial contribution to the team’s victory and unleashed the spirit of Mugwan Han.
A disappointing second season
After such a perfect 2021-2022 season, Kang-isul and KB seemed to have a solid future. After winning the title in a dominant fashion, KB was close to building a dynasty.
However, as they headed into the new season, something changed. Park Ji-soo, who had been the centrepiece of the team alongside Kang Seul, was diagnosed with panic disorder before the season. The loss of one of the team’s pillars would prove to be a big change for KB.
All eyes were on Kang Isul. With Park Ji-soo’s participation in the season unclear, Kang-isul was the key to steadying the ship. With Kang-isul’s presence, KB was seen as a team that could still contend for the title despite Park Ji-soo’s departure.
However, when the lid was lifted, KB was far more disappointing than expected. In fact, things went wrong right from the start. Opening against Shinhan Bank, KB got off to a shaky start, losing 77-84 in a close game that went into a whopping two overtimes. For a team that had been buoyed by a ‘can-do’ attitude in the off-season, the loss came as a bigger blow than expected.
From there, it was a downward spiral for KB. They opened the season with three straight losses and finished the first round with a 1-4 record. Even their performance against Hana OneQ, their only win, was far from satisfactory.
After that, KB was unable to rebound. They followed up the first round with a 1-4 record in the second round. The players’ confidence continued to plummet with each loss. However, there was a glimmer of hope when Park Ji-soo returned in the middle of the season. KB immediately went on a winning streak after Park’s return and became a threat to the top teams.
However, the spark of hope was extinguished when Park Ji-soo was sidelined again with a finger injury. KB reverted back to their lethargic form from the start of the season and finished the season with a disappointing 10 wins and 20 losses. It was the second time in 12 years that the defending champions missed the playoffs, and the second time in history that they were eliminated from the playoffs.
Kang-isul also struggled to break out of her slump. Averaging 15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. The volume hasn’t dropped that much, but efficiency has been the problem.
In particular, Kang’s three-point shot, which had been her biggest weapon, completely broke down. After boasting a 42.9 per cent accuracy rate the previous season, Kang’s three-point shooting dropped to 29.9 per cent. That’s a staggering 13 per cent drop.
Only in her first two seasons, 2012-2013 (25.0 per cent) and 2013-2014 (27.6 per cent), did she shoot in the 20s from three-point range, and even then, she was a backup player who averaged less than 10 minutes of playing time.
In other words, this was the first time since she became a mainstay on the team that she didn’t shoot above 20 per cent from three-point range.
Her physical condition was also poor.