New York Knicks Will Need a Revamped Steve Novak in 2014

Thomas Duffy@@TJDhoopsFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2013

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
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

The New York Knicks came up short of their goal this season, which was to win a championship. In many ways, though, the team’s 2013 campaign was a success. The Knicks won the Atlantic division, won 54 games and proved that they are finally back—in the sense that they can be perennial contenders in the coming years.

Carmelo Anthony won the scoring crown and J.R. Smith won Sixth Man of the Year, but the team was missing something.

New York led the league in three-pointers attempted and three-pointers made per game, and it ranked fourth in three-point shooting percentage (up from 21st from two seasons ago). The Knicks improved their ranking in all of those categories.

And they did so in a down year by their best long-range threat.

Steve Novak was awesome last season—every shot that he put up seemed like it was going to go in. That wasn't the case, but he was the league's top three-point shooter. This season, Novak was good, but not great. In 2014, the Knicks will need that sensational, crowd-electrifying player that earned a four year, $15 million contract last season coming off their bench.

Novak’s numbers went down across the board this year, especially his three-point shooting. His total shot attempts, three-point attempts, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and points per game all dipped from last season (via ESPN).

Defenses around the league made adjustments after getting torched the first time around, and it isn’t hard to shut down a player who is, for the most part, entirely one-dimensional.

Novak can shoot—there is absolutely no debating that. In the offseason, though, he needs to work on a couple of things.

The first is using his dribble. When closing out on him, defenders throw themselves at Novak and he simply throws a dart back to Anthony or Raymond Felton and then tries to get open again. If he can develop the ability to pump fake, take a step in and hit the shot, he will not only improve his offensive production, he’ll improve his efficiency because he’ll be getting himself cleaner looks.

The next improvement Novak needs to make pertains to his defense. He minimizes the amount of time that Mike Woodson can leave him on the court because of the fact that he’s a liability on the defensive end.

When he’s hitting shots on offense the team can deal with it, but he had his minutes reduced from 20.3 in the regular season to 5.6 per game in the playoffs (although part of that can be attributed to his struggles with a back injury).

If Novak improves his ball-handling, defense and his overall game in the offseason, he will make himself a huge asset to a team that revolves around long-range shooting and is looking to go even further in 2014 than it did this season.