Steve Novak was the best 3PT shooter in the NBA last season. Coming into the New York Knicks virtually unknown, he lit up opposing teams who dared to leave him open, and ignited the craze of the “Discount Triple Check,” (a nod to Aaron Rodgers’ title belt celebration) after knocking down a big shot.
This season, Novak has struggled, and there is a perfectly good reason for it: it is hard to do something consistently well when it is the only thing you can do.
That is not to say that Novak can’t do anything but shoot, but he isn’t out there for his defense, passing, ball handling, rebounding, or athleticism. He is a sharp-shooter, and other teams know that.
After getting burned on 47% of Novak’s 3PTA last season, which led the league in 3PT%, opposing teams are tightening up their defense on him. Novak’s defender rarely leaves him to help out a teammate, which makes it so much harder for Novak to get open, as most of his attempts last season came from Carmelo Anthony or Jeremy Lin driving the lane and kicking it out.
What does Novak have to do to get his attempts (5.6 as opposed to last season’s 6.2) up? He has to prove that he can shoot off the dribble. Maybe throw in a pump-fake, one-dribble shot here and there. The Knicks are not asking Novak to dribble circles around everyone and orchestrate their offense. It’s just frustrating watching him catch and pass the ball in nearly one motion every time he seems to touch it.
Novak’s % isn’t bad this season, as he set the bar pretty high last year. He is currently 4th in the NBA for 3PT% with 44.6% from downtown. Last season, though, Novak hit 133-282 three pointers (keep in mind, shortened season) and this season is currently sitting at 91-204 from 3PT land.
Look for Novak’s percentage and production to improve as he becomes more acclimated to playing with Pablo Prigioni, and learns to shoot more frequently off the dribble.
As Novak expands his skill set, he will improve his production of what he does best on the court: shooting threes and celebrating like a madman.