1) Back when NBA fans were frivolously arguing over Jeremy Lin’sinclusion in the Rookie-Sophomore Game, I was wondering why the same fans weren’t clamoring for Steve Novak’s inclusion in the Three Point Shootout. Novak was signed as a “stretch four” in Mike D’Antoni’s offense and the Knicks’ three-point archer has far surpassed expectations. Scratch that. There were no expectations for the unknown 6-foot-10 power forward.
The Knicks are the NBA’s have the league’s ninth worst three-point shooting percentage but don’t tell that to Novak. It doesn’t matter that he literally hasn’t attempted a shot in the paint this season.
Not only has Novak usurped Aaron Rodgers as Mr. Discount Double Check but he’s also having one of the best shooting seasons ever from behind the arc. Novak will finish with the most three pointers made per 48 minutes in a single season (6.3) and has the best three point shooting percentage in the NBA.
Surprisingly, this is not the first time he’s had this type of season. During the 2008-2009 season, Novak came off the bench for the Clippers and sank the third most three pointers per 48 minutes in a single season. (Ironically, J.R. Smith holds the record for another few hours with 5.3) Then he was inexplicably banished to the Clippers,Mavericks and Spurs benches for three years until Carmelo Anthony injured his knee in Jeremy Lin’s first start.
Last night against the Clippers, Novak made the game-saving play-on defense. After another historic season, Novak won’t be forgotten this offseason.
2) Donnie Walsh is responsible for demolishing Isiah’s Knicks and engineering the high profile acquisitions of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire but Glen Grunwald is responsible for the supporting cast including Novak, Lin, Chandler, Baron Davis and J.R. Smith. He also brought in college teammate Mike Woodson to serve as “defensive assistant” to D’Antoni. The Knicks were wise to reward Grunwald by removing his interim tag on Tuesday. Now it’s time to return the favor to Woodson.
3) Tyson Chandler and Mike Woodson changed the entire philosophy of the New York Knicks. Rather than playing a reckless offensive style, they became a balanced team. Tyson Chandler has been the human defense system, that has made New York, the NBA’s best interior defense and Secretary of Defense turned head coach, Mike Woodson’s hiring completed the Knicks transformation into one of the best defensive teams in the league.
4) Since Woodson became head coach, the Knicks have gone 17-6 and should improve to 18-6 with a win over the hapless Bobcats (even if they played a hobbled Jeremy Lin and signed some Chinese point guard named Stephon Ma Bu Li to a one game contract). Most importantly, they’ve gone 11-1 at the Garden.
5) The Amare Stoudemire of old hasn’t shown up this year and the worry is that he may never re-emerge. However, the dynamic between Stoudemire and Chandler resembles the Bulls’ frontcourt of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. Stoudemire hasn’t reached the point or carbon dating like Boozer but he is not performing up to his contract. However, both of their defensive deficiencies are alleviated by team defense and a towering post presence (Noah and Chandler).
6) If the Knicks can escape the first round, Jeremy Lin should be ready for the conference semifinals. Baron Davis has been a capable backup (instead of the savior he was hyped as) but Lin brought an infusion of youth and athleticism offensively to the point guard position that has been missing since his injury.
7) The Knicks are one of the best teams in the league at scoring in the paint and are far and away the best paint scoring team in the month of April. They are averaging 54 points per game in the post this month. Utah is second with 46 paint points.
8) In the month of April, Carmelo Anthony has been the league’s second most efficient player and since the All-Star break, the Knicks are fourth in efficiency as a team. In the month of April, Anthony is averaging 29.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Anthony is in elite company. Lebron James is in the midst of one of the most efficient seasons in NBA history is averaging 29.5/6.8/4.9 this month. Amazingly, Anthony’s numbers include a few games where he sat out entire fourth quarters)Those numbers won’t change as Anthony likely wont play against the Bobcats.
9) I am convinced that Amare Stoudemire should spend as much time on the court with the second unit as humanly possible. When Chandler is in the post, he takes away his driving lanes to the basket and his pick and roll opportunities. When Chandler is out, Stoudemire always seems to experience an uptick in points scored in the post and doesn’t fade out to shoot midrange, face up jumpers.
10) In the midst of a 66-game season, the Knicks have made their most strides over the past 22 games when Woodson replaces Mike D’Antoni. A full season would have given this team another 16 games to gel and to dig their way out of the hole they found themselves in under D’Antoni. If given a whole season, the Knicks could have been a top three seed in the Eastern Conference.