Get your Novakaine ready, this one could hurt.
Steve Novak, the six-year man from Marquette, has found a home in the Garden. He saw action in 58 games last season for the New York Knicks, most of his minutes coming aafter Mike Woodson took over. Averging 18.9 minutes per game, Novak led all players in the league with a .472 shooting percentage from long range. Out of the 337 shots he took last season, 282 of them were from behind the arc, while none came at the rim. On October 11th against the Wizards, Novak was unconscious from deep, going 7-7 in an effortless performance that woke up oppossing teams if they were somehow still sleeping on him.
The high water mark of his season last year came on April 17th against the Celtics. Novak knocked down 8-10 from what seemed like 30 feet from the hoop. He finished with 25 points in a Knicks win. However, weeks later against the Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Novak was stymied. He went 4-7 from distance in the five games and seemed rattled by the defense the Heat threw at him.
In the offseason, Novak was rewarded with a four-year, $15 million deal, thanks in large part to the Bird Rights. He is set to make $4.05 million in 2012 and will be the first or second guy off the Knicks bench with J.R. Smith. He is known around the streets of Manhattan, especially around 34th and 7th, as the dude not afraid to put on the belt. Novak's signature is the invisible championship belt he secures around his waist after he hits a big three.
If the Knicks plan to advance past the first round of the playoffs, they need the belt to be put on a number of times throughout the season, and postseason. Novak must improve on putting the ball on the floor and creating his own shot. You saw what happened against the Heat when teams have guys that are 6'7 - 6'10 that can guard the three point line. He must also understand that teams will be keying on him a lot more than last year, which will create open shots and easy buckets for his teammates, most notably Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
The Knicks forward just happens to be the best pure shooter in the NBA, go figure.