Steve Novak probably wishes he could turn back time. One would be lying to themselves if they felt as if he was having the same type of quality season he had last year. A season which saw a very productive 8.8 PPG and an astounding 48% FG percentage, including a league best 47% from beyond the arc. This year, the word that comes to mind first when thinking of Steve Novak, is inconsistency. So far this year Novak is averaging just 6.6 PPG while shooting 41% from the field, and 42% from 3 PT range. Although his numbers have not dipped all that much year, you just get the feeling in most of these games that Novak is basically invisible.
While Novak has made his fair share of three’s so far this year, 116 to be exact, none of them have the same feel as they did last year when he made clutch three after clutch three. Novak attempted a total of 282 three’s in last years shortened season in which the Knicks played a total of 66 games. So far, after playing a total of 65 games this season, Novak has taken a total of 277 three’s, five fewer than last year. This is partially due to the fact that Novak’s minutes have decreased since last year. Last year Novak played 19.6 minutes a game, while this year he is seeing less time on the floor at 15.7 mpg. Last year, Novak finished with a total of 20 games in which he scored in double figures, this year he’s scored in double figures in 15 games. Again, not a huge difference, but still the consistency just isn’t there.
One of the things I have also noticed this year is that Novak tends to pass up easier shots to take the harder ones. And maybe he doesn’t know this, but he is allowed to take a shot inside the arc. Novak has attempted less than 50 three’s than he has two’s. While Novak is mainly in the game for his three point shooting ability, he shouldn’t be passing up two’s for three’s. On top of that, the Knicks have not had that guaranteed, knock-down three point shooter they did in Novak last year. While J.R. makes his share of three’s, he also takes an enormous amount, shooting at a low percentage. Yes Novak’s percentage at 42% this season is still impressive, it’s just not what it was last year, and you certainly do not get that confident feeling when it leaves his fingers.
Not only has Novak not been as consistent offensively, he also continues to be a huge liability on defense. It’s one thing if you are having a tough night shooting but you pick up the slack a little on defense, however that’s usually not the case with Novak. When he is on the floor, it constantly looks and feels like the Knicks are playing one man short on the defensive end. He does not have the foot speed to guard most players, and his help side defense (like most on the team) is poor.
I am in no way bashing Novak, and I do see value in his game, but there just hasn’t been that “Novakaine” feel to his game this year. What was consistent last year, is lacking most of the time this year, and in order for the Knicks to be successful this year, he needs to be more of a threat from beyond the arc. We all know how much the Knicks rely on the three ball, so having that knock-down guy who can extend the opponent’s defense goes a long way for a team.