Apr 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Steve Novak (16) reacts after scoring a three pointer during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 90-80. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Novak – In Focus


With some hesitation, I offer you an analysis of one of the newest Toronto Raptors, Steve Novak.

My apprehension is simply because I don’t know Novak’s game very well. It is beyond dispute that the man can shoot the ball, but can he contribute in any other fashion?

Mar 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Knicks small forward Steve Novak (16) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors small forward Draymond Green (23) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Novak came to the NBA after graduating (what a concept!) from Marquette University. He was selected #32 in 2006 by the Houston Rockets, but had little impact there, and bounced around the league and the D-League for years. His 3-point shooting acumen was finally rewarded by the New York Knicks with a hefty free-agent contract in July of 2012. This summer he was dealt to the Raps as part of the Andrea Bargnani deal. Unlike 2 participants in the transaction (Quentin Richardson & Marcus Camby), Novak has not been waived/bought out by the Raps, nor does he sound unhappy to be in Canada.

Steve Novak is listed at 6’10′ and 235 pounds, and plays as a “stretch-4″, i.e., a power forward who hovers on the perimeter, striving to get open to launch a long ball. Last season, he drained 149 3-balls in 351 attempts, a more-than-respectable 42.5% clip, which was actually down from the previous year. By contrast, our stretch-4 (Bargnani), made 38 of 123, or 30.9%. At which point you might ask why we got more than Novak (like draft picks) when Steve had by far the better season than Andrea. And there’s the rub – Andrea, when at his best, is a more complete ball player than Steve. Andrea can put the ball on the floor and go to the basket, he can create his shot – he’s not even the worst one-on-one defender on the planet (though his help defense is woeful). Steve has none of those capabilities. If he’s going to help the Raps, he’ll need the active collusion of his teammates. The offensive thrusts of the other Raps will need to be so successful that Novak’s defenders will be compelled to help on double-teams or clogging the paint. At that point, Novak may have the space he needs to launch his high-arcing jumper. The list of stretch-4s who can hit long jumpers with a hand in their face is exceedingly short (how about one name – Dirk Nowitzki), so Steve may get to take a few unchallenged long bombs, after which the defense will likely adjust and he’ll be done. Steve only tried 79 shots last season which weren’t 3s, so he hasn’t much else to offer. His rebounding numbers are sad, and not worthy of repeating. Suffice it to say that Andrea’s 3.7 RPG (Rebounds Per Game) is grim – and nearly twice Steve’s RPG.

Steve Novak is a 3-point shooting specialist. If his teammates help him get open looks, and he shoots the way he’s capable of, he will add a useful dimension to the Raps’ offense. If not, he’ll play the fewest minutes on the team.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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  • Guy

    While there’s no denying Novak is, indeed, a one-trick pony, I disagree with the assertion he’s going to need to rely completely on how well his teammates are playing offensively. The thing about Novak that seems to be overlooked is that he doesn’t have to score to be effective. What makes him a valuable is that his presence on the floor will open things up for his teammates. If the defender drops off him to double Rudy/DD/JV/whoever, they’ll be leaving one of the league’s most deadly 3pt shooters open. Simply put, the opponent will have to account for Novak & that means more space for the main scoring options.

    The thing that concerns me is that Rudy & Demar are the same ball-stoppers on offense they were last year. Far to often last year we saw the ball get in their hands & the offense came to a standstill. If this remains the same, Novak’s effectiveness will be completely negated as the opponent will have time to adjust & rotate. However, if those two have improved in that area & are quick to move the ball, this opens things up for not only Novak, but everyone.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Guy:
      I hear you, but it’s a chicken-&-egg thing. Until Novak shows he can score, he won’t get the ball, which means he can’t score, and around the mulberry bush we go. In short, a Steve Novak who isn’t draining one 3-ball a game is a liability, even as a decoy, which is what you’re suggesting.
      I certainly concur that Rudy needs to be less of a heads-down “I’m shooting now” guy when he receives the ball; in fact, everyone would benefit from an emphasis on ball movement. I like to see all 5 guys touch the ball in the half-court set, and that kind of offense will greatly help Novak. It will be interesting to see if coach Casey puts Novak on the floor with Rudy, DD et al.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Sheptor

    The problem with Novak is that if we can get 3 point shooting from our other wings he becomes obsolete. This season we are hoping for DeMar, Rudy, Ross, and Fields all to improve their 3 point percentages and if 3 of the 4 do so or even if they all increase but just a few percentage points then Novak becomes trade bait. Simple fact is at least one wing has to go this season for either a big or a draft pick. Novak can’t get you a 1st rounder like DeMar could but he’s still tradable like all players on this team (minus Jonas) especially this year. Novak is going to have to hope to get in the rotation early in the year and make his shots and continue to roll, if not he could have a short stint in T Dot. I wish him the best but honestly I’d rather see Landry Fields have a bounce back year then Novak shoot 40+% from 3 because Landry can do a little bit of everything especially move off the ball.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Sheptor:
      It’s interesting that you view Novak as a wing. I see him as subbing for Amir Johnson, not DeMar or Landry. I’m looking forward to seeing the first few pre-season games, which should give us a much better idea of how Dwane Casey plans to use Novakcaine (apparently Walt Frazier gave him that nickname). You may be right.
      As to Novak having a short stint in T Dot – that wouldn’t surprise me at all, nor him I imagine. He’s another guy who could help a playoff contender, should the Raps be out of the picture by February.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • Sheptor

        I see him as a 3/4. But I see Amir and Hansbrough getting majority of minutes at the 4, and would prefer Acy to get the remainder of minutes there (even though he is supposedly playing some 3 this year to defend the bigger 3′s in the NBA Ex: Melo, Lebron etc.). Novak will likely be glued to the bench no matter what position you think he’s going to play just as he was in New York mainly because of D. He’ll get his chances early but like I said Toronto is relying heavily on internal growth at all positions and if this happens Novak’s 3ball becomes obsolete. He was sent here for salary matching, even if he is an elite 3 point threat I don’t think Masai sees him as a piece to any puzzle, unless we had a way to compete for a championship by next year. He will be shipped again hopefully before season’s end along with someone else for hopefully a 1st rounder or another quality center. A team might want Landry or Daye in his place if they have sufficient 3pt shooting and are looking for someone with more upside or for salary purposes. Either way he would be the first I would ship out as any kicker to a trade because unless he is draining 3′s and an incredible rate he’s useless to the Raptors right now, send him to San Antonio or OKC.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi again:
          I think you’re spot-on with pretty well everything you’ve written. The Raps have a number of relatively cheap specialists who could be dealt, and I’d be extremely surprised if we have the same roster at the end of the season as the one we started with.