If there’s one thing that the Heat have exposed in the first four games of this series, it’s that Steve Novak is a one-trick-pony. Yes, we knew this, but we never knew the extent. The Heat’s super-quick perimeter rotations leave Novak with essentially no time to hoist up a three – even though he has a lightning quick release – which leaves him trapped out behind the three-point line. In the series, Novak has only hit four threes, on just seven attempts. He’s still knocking down the shots, just isn’t getting the opportunity to take too many. The lack of attempts isn’t coming from a lack of playing time, either. It’s resulting from superb defense that doesn’t even let Novak attempt a shot. When Novak is on the floor, the Knicks are essentially playing four on five, with the possibility of a three-pointer, should the Heat collapse on defense.
The rookie out of Kentucky, on the other hand, has shown how flexible he is, which is why I think Harrellson should steal some of Novak’s playing time.
On offense, Josh Harrellson, has a three-point shot – one that he’ll actually be able to get off since it’s not expected – as well as a close-range and mid-range game. On defense, he’s surprisingly good. He boxes out, always has his hands up and in his defender’s face, and just has a sense of where to be on the floor. He can defend threes, fours and fives, double team ones and twos, as well as play an effective role in a zone defense.
While on the floor in this series, Harrellson has racked up a +/- of +9, much, much better than Steve Novak’s -44. If you’ve watched any of the games, you wouldn’t find these statistics shocking, either. As I stated earlier, Novak’s inability to create his own shot strands him beyond the three-point line, leaving the Knicks playing four on five, which detracts from the team’s overall success.
While I do think Harrellson should receive most of Novak’s playing time, I’m not advocating for Novak to vanish to the bench for Harrellson to shine. Novak still possesses a very valuable skill: hitting threes at a ridiculously high rate. If the Knicks play Steve Novak and Carmelo Anthony at the same time, as well as on the same side of the court, the Heat will be forced to choose leaving Novak open, in order to help on Melo – assuming he shows up in his SuperMelo form – or to stay on Novak, deny him the three, but leave Melo an advantageous one-on-one matchup.
There is no question Steve Novak is a very valuable player to the Knicks’ success, but his lack of offense – besides threes – and his sub-par defensive skills make him a hindrance to keep on the floor for an extended period of time. Harrellson, on the other hand, has earned some minutes and has proved he’s able to contribute – even in the playoffs.