When NBA players are labeled “one-dimensional,” it usually means they are incompetent at either offense or defense, the two sides of the court. With Steve Novak, it’s a different case. Novak’s defense and rebounding are both non-existent, but he is of just one use on offense. Novak has been one of the best 3-point shooters in the entire league for the past couple of seasons. Last year, Novak led the NBA in 3-point percentage with a 47.2% clip as a New York Knick, efficient enough to land himself a 4-year, $16 million contract from GM Glen Grunwald. At the time I wasn’t very skeptical, but now 57 games into his new deal I wish he was never here.
The absurdity of signing a player with just one particular skill didn’t hit me at first, nor did it for many who fell in love with Novak last season. “Novakaine” got the Garden on their feet on several occasions in the 2011-2012 campaign, with his remarkably consistent stroke and famously stolen “championship belt” celebration. This year he’s still stroking the ball well, but not to last year’s standard and has taken a dip since the All-Star break to levels of mere long-range decency. Specifically speaking, his 3-point percentage has gone from last year’s 47.2% to 44% this season, and it’s fallen to a 39.3% clip since the All-Star weekend passed 7 games ago.
Now what am I getting worked up about? A 3.2% drop and a 7.9% drop that should be brushed aside because of how small of a sample size it is? Some could call it unfair for me to be satisfied with only other-worldly shooting efficiency from Novak, but it’s justifiable to me. Why? Because shooting the ball from downtown is literally all Steve Novak can do to benefit the Knicks on the court. His off-ball movement isn’t up to par with an average NBA player, making it even harder for him to get the looks he wants from three, especially when he refuses to attempt one when a defender is in front of him, despite his 6’10″ frame.
New York’s DRTG worsens with his entry onto the floor, and he possesses the worst REB% in the entire league for a player of his stature. His minutes per game have increased from last year to this year, yet his three-point attempts a night have fallen, with defenses now aware of his marksmanship.
This is noticeable when the Knicks play tougher opponents. Against teams over .500, Novak fires approximately 3.4 threes per game, which is below this season’s average for him at 4.3, as well as last year’s 5.2. His presence does space the floor for attacker such as Felton, Anthony, Stoudemire and J.R. Smith though, right? Per nbawowy.com, The eFG% of Felton and Stoudemire both go up when Novak’s on the court, but Anthony’s and Smith’s decreases. So both yes and no then.
This one-trick pony is set to cash in a hefty $16 million by the time the 2016 NBA season is behind us, and no teams have showed an ounce of interest for him. His three-point shooting is still lethal, but being as it’s his only beneficial production, either his shooting needs to step up back to a ridiculous level or he needs to develop other facets of his game. Otherwise, the New York Knicks are going to have the most expensive human victory cigar in sports.