It's early on a Friday morning a couple of weeks away from the start of the 2012-13 season, so you might find yourself trying to remember, "Hey, why is it exactly that Steve Novak went from 'four teams in five years, can't stay in an NBA rotation' to 'epic folk hero who should receive a $15 million contract in free agency' last season?" Well, for starters, "should" is a pretty weighted word there, but there are a few reasons:
1. His move from the end of the New York Knicks' bench to the thick of their playoff run helped amplify the team's other, larger rags-to-riches story;
2. He played in, y'know, New York;
3. He started pretending to wear a belt;
4. Oh, and he hits pretty much everything.
While the first point there will (regrettably) no longer be true, Nos. 2 and 3 will probably hold fast. And as we saw in the Knicks' preseason opener against the Washington Wizards on Thursday night, No. 4 looks primed for a repeat, too. Behold:
The NBA's reigning leader in 3-point shooting accuracy got his preseason off to a sterling start, going a perfect 7-for-7 from deep to score a game-high 21 points in 32 minutes off the New York bench en route to a 108-101 Knicks win. J.R. Smith added 20 off the pine to pace Mike Woodson's attack.
Novak's openness was due partly to curious Wizards defense (I'm not so sure why you'd sag off him in the corner in favor of shading toward a double on Kurt Thomas), partly to some cute set work in the halfcourt (the little cross-screen he works with Carmelo Anthony leading to a cut to the 3-point arc, cleared up by Henry Sims' pin of a recovering Jan Vesely), partly to curious Wizards defense (Chris Singleton overshading toward the threat of Raymond Felton's penetration to leave Novak alone on the wing), partly to curious Wizards defense (Chris Singleton closes out but still leaves plenty of space for Novak to rise and fire) and partly to curious Wizards defense (seriously, Chris Singleton, it's preseason, but aren't you supposed to be growing into a defensive presence?). I wouldn't expect Novak to continue to see that kind of airspace against good defenses (remember what happened to him against the Miami Heat during last year's brief first-round cameo), but it's neat to see that when it's given to him, he's got no compunction about quickly taking it and making defenses pay.
Novak finished 7-for-8 on the night, with his lone miss coming on what Knickerblogger's Jim Cavan called a "dribble-drive 18-foot FLOATER, which naturally careened off the heel [of the rim]." The lesson, as always: Just shoot 3-pointers, Steve, and play to your strengths. When you do, you're a mighty and fearsome thing.
Video via nbainfos.