By Max Marcilla
If someone told you before the season that a player who just signed a 4-year $16 million dollar contract with the Knicks would be a player that’s return is questionable, they wouldn’t believe you. However, now Steve Novak is a member of this Knicks team that has lost minutes to multiple role players, like Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin.
Steve Novak was given a chance early in the year to show why he was given such a large contract. In the first month of the season, Novak played 20+ minutes in all but 4 games, but struggled. Last year he wouldn’t have to take so many shots to put up an 8-10 point effort, but this year it took him only 4 or 5 shots to do so. It took Novak way too many shots to score very few points.
As the season went along, teams began to find out how to stop the once dynamic three-point specialist. Teams would put a quick guard on Novak, leaving him trying to escape around the three-point line to get open, without success.
The struggles continued, and as the season progressed, Novak lost minutes to other hungry players because he had become completely one-dimensional. Instead of making adjustments to his game, like developing an ability to drive to the basket or shoot off the dribble, Novak continued to camp out 27 feet away from the hoop, covered tightly.
Eventually, Novak started to see his minutes decrease to 5 or less minutes, like in the Indiana series. It was a questionable coaching decision, but one I don’t disagree with. If Novak did come in, Indiana could’ve put a guard on him, leaving the paint swarmed with forwards, and of course Roy Hibbert. The Knicks did need more scoring in that series, but they chose to go with fan favorite, 28-year old rookie Chris Copeland, because he is very versatile.
This season, if he returns, Novak will need to make changes to his game. If you look at some of the best three-point specialists in the NBA (Ray Allen and Kyle Korver for example), while their primary ability is the three-ball, they can drive to the basket, are constantly in motion looking to get open, and can shoot off the dribble with consistency. If Novak wants to return to the Knicks as a crucial piece to the puzzle, he will definitely need to bring more to the table.
If he can do that, it will determine what roll he has on the Knicks next year. If he can adjust his game, he will be an every-day player and added to the rotation, but if not, he may not only see less minutes, but it may not be in a blue and orange uniform.