Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Asian America’s Team: Steve Novak

A while back, I wrote an article about the New York Knicks' return to relevancy after a long decade of misery. It turns out that I was correct in that the Knicks do matter, but clearly it wasn’t for the reasons I had mentioned. Saying that a lot has changed since December is an understatement -- Jeremy Lin happened, and we here at Gym Class All Stars were swept into the Linsanity (Link1) (Link2) (Link3) (Link4). Ever since then, all Asian Americans and their parents have been glued to every Knicks game. For a good three weeks, it was the only topic on my Facebook news feed. The Knicks have now returned to playoff contention, and although there are many ups and downs for this team, it is clear that the New York Knicks are now “Asian America’s Team,” and even Asian fans of other teams now have an inner struggle of rooting for their team when Jeremy Lin comes to town.
Asian America’s Team will be a weekly column on the New York Knicks highlighting different players, updating on past and upcoming games, and providing general information on the most talked-about team in today’s NBA. Today I will be highlighting Steve Novak, who has garnered a following of his own (see: Novakistan).

Most of the media has been focused on the Knicks’starting five: point guard Jeremy Lin, his handshaking partner Landry Fields, and the original Knicks big three: Carmelo, Amare, and Tyson. However, Steve Novak has quietly made a huge impact to this team. Maybe it is the fact that this system is perfect for his skill set, or maybe it is because people have overlooked that Novak can just flat-out play. Steve Novak’s story isn’t too far from Jeremy Lin’s, and although he hasn’t played at an All-American level or had to face racial hurdles the way Lin did, he has dealt with and overcome the grind of the NBA.

From the start, Novak was undervalued coming out of college. Most scouts had Steve Novak ranked as the 50th best prospect in the 2006 draft. The Rockets were given mixed reviews when they took a chance drafting Novak with the second pick in the second round. That meant 31 men were taken before Steve Novak in one of the least-talented drafts in recent memory. Scouts around the country called Steve Novak "one-dimensional" and failed to give him credit for anything besides his three-point shot. They criticized him for his inside shooting ability and his ineffectiveness in defending and rebounding. After the draft, one expert went so far as to criticize the general belief that a team could always use more shooters and listed draft busts while commenting on the Steve Novak draft pick.

Since the 2007 season, Steve Novak has bounced around the league playing for 5 different NBA teams in 6 seasons while being sent down to the D-League twice in his career. Before this season, Novak never saw consistent playing time and at times was just put on the floor for a potential last-second triple. For this reason, Novak actually has a good amount of game-winners in his limited role in the NBA.

Similar to Jeremy Lin, who was given the California High School Player of the Year award, Steve Novak was the high school player of the year in Wisconsin his senior year. He went on to play at Marquette University and led his team to a successful campaign his senior year. He also made first team all Big East, but he was still ignored by most teams in the draft.

Looking back at the 2006 draft, you will find that of the 31 men drafted before Novak, 17 are not even in the NBA anymore. The 17 players are Brandon Roy , Adam Morrison, Patrick O'Bryant, Mouhamed Sene, Hilton Armstrong, Cedric Simmons, Rodney Carney, Oleksiy Pecherov, Quincy Douby, Renaldo Balkman, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Sergio Rodriguez, Maurice Ager, Mardy Collins, Joel Freeland, and James White.


Of the remaining 14 in the league, only 5 (Andrea Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, and Jordan Farmar) have a better Player Efficiency Rating, which is a rating system created by ESPN analyst John Hollinger that measures how effective a player is during his time on the court. One could easily make the argument that Novak should have been a mid-first round pick. His PER is even higher than Rudy Gay's by a couple decimal points. This year, Steve Novak is ranked 73rd overall in PER and 4th in 3-point percentage (47.5%).

Novak might have been lost in the shuffle before, but it is clear that he is a staple in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. It truly has been a pleasure watching him hit clutch three after three and follow it up with the “Discount Double Check,” which still gives me goosebumps as a fellow Packers fan. Steve Novak is just one of the many storylines on this team, and he is now a fan favorite after joining this past offseason for the veteran's minimum. We could all use a dose of NOVAKAINE!
Photos courtesy of thenolookpass.com, sportslogos.net, egotripland.com, and meloshipofthering.com.

7 comments:

STATS. i love it. great research there, caleb!

Nice stats! Some sick fantasy information there (just a slight stab at you, JE, haha)

I am a fan of Steve Novak. I want to make that clear. But last night, my fandom took a huge hit. In their game against the Mavericks, he still did the discount double check motion even though the Knicks were down 8 points, late in the 4th, on the road... CMONMAN

lol alby, got me! i didn't realize PER was a fantasy stat! that's a shame, then, because surely rudy gay is nearly as efficient for a LOT more time, no?

Novak has more swag than anyone else on the NYKs but I would say that scouts were pretty accurate labeling him as a one dimensional player. I still think a second round pick was pretty high for this guy.

Homeless mans Drazen Petrovic.

Homeless man's Petrovic is still pretty good! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLlPtBsGbYo&feature=related and maybe second round talent, but clearly for that draft first round production.

Poor man's Brian Cardinal without the dirty work, defense, and rebounding. #TheCustodian

DRAZEN?!? Say it ain't so...

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