A sign of how good the 8-1 New York Knicks have it: the major worries at this point are whether bringing back an elite scorer in Amar’e Stoudemire will hurt the team, and the shooting accuracy of a guy who is hitting 34 percent of his threes.
We’ll have plenty of time to figure out the first one when Stoudemire returns. But just what is going on with Steve Novak?
He is struggling in a way that he simply didn’t in 2011-12. Over his first nine games, he’s at 34 percent shooting from three-point range. Take away the opener, and he’s at 28.2 percent in eight games, including last night’s 2-for-10 from three.
Obviously, a Novak who isn’t making threes is a Novak who isn’t worth much to the Knicks on the court. So really, the question becomes: has this ever happened before?
Well, if we are using arbitrary things like an eight-game stretch, not in 2011-12, where his worst eight-game percentage, once he played regularly, was 34.1 percent over eight games from March 31 through April 15. Then he went out and made eight of ten threes against the Celtics. So he recovered nicely from that spell.
And remember, he only played regularly for the final two-thirds of what was already a shortened 66-game season. Just because you haven’t seen it happen in a Knicks uniform doesn’t mean much.
Other than last year, the season in which Novak got the most time on the court was 2008-09. And by the way, he had an eight-game stretch just like this one, making just 29.2 percent of his threes, while attempting six a game, from February 17 through March 2, 2009. Then he made 56.6 percent of his threes, while taking 5.3 per game, over his next ten.
He did hit just 31 percent of his threes, on the season, for the 2009-10 Clippers. But he also didn’t play much, logging 15 minutes or more in just eight games all season.
Ultimately, what we know about Steve Novak is this: if he plays regularly, he is one of the finest three-point shooters the NBA has ever seen. His career mark of 43.1 percent from three is seventh-best in league history.
In a shortened season, Novak avoided slumps entirely, and shot 47.2 percent, his best single season. He may not be at that level in 2012-13. But his career argues he won’t be far off, this team does an excellent job finding open threes for everyone, and his next explosion of made threes shouldn’t be far away.