Friday, December 28, 2012
Opening Tip: More help for Novak?
By Jared Zwerling
Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Should Mike Woodson run more halfcourt plays for Steve Novak?
There have been times since Mike Woodson took over the team in March when he's admitted he needs to help certain guys play better.
Sometimes those guys can get lost in the offense, which is a reflection of Woodson's style. His schemes are not too complex, as they focus on the players who generate the most offense -- and then he lets it flows from there. Mostly traditional basketball; no flex or Princeton patterns. In the Knicks' case this season, Woodson has mostly worked the ball through Carmelo Anthony in isolation, and Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler in the pick-and-roll, while stressing quick ball movement and efficient execution.
Therefore, role players like Steve Novak and Ronnie Brewer are sort of floaters. They get opportunities when opportunities arise -- mostly unplanned.
This season, Woodson has said he needs to help Brewer more. The small forward, of course, needs to also help himself. He's been getting wide-open 3-point looks from the baseline corners, but he hasn't been knocking them down. After shooting over 40 percent from downtown to start the season, he's dropped to 30.5 percent.
Now, Novak needs some help. But in his case, he can still shoot the 3. He's at 43.3 percent from beyond the arc this season. He just needs more looks and touches. In the past four games, he's only averaged 1.5 3-point attempts per game, but overall, he's averaging 4.8 -- even a slight decrease from last season's 5.2.
Woodson needs to listen to this stat: The Knicks are 10-1 this season when Novak makes at least three 3-pointers in a game. They only have one loss this season when he hit that mark, which happened on Nov. 23 in their 131-103 loss to the Rockets.
Both Novak and Woodson have said there aren't designated halfcourt plays being run for the sharpshooter. But with the Knicks temporarily losing Raymond Felton's 15.8 points per game, perhaps it's time to institute more pick-and-pop and cross-screen plays for Novak for the team to ensure an extra nine-plus points per game.
At this point, as much as we'd like to think Novak will make a big difference with his added pump fakes and one-to-two dribble moves, the bulk of his scoring will come from quick 3-point setups from his teammates' help. And that help shouldn't just come from others penetrating and passing. They need to get Novak more directly involved.
The Knicks also need to regain the faster pace they established earlier in the season, so Novak can get more 3-point looks in transition. Not only do they always get the Garden crowd fired up, but they also facilitate huge momentum swings for the Knicks. When it comes to playoff time, those will be critical in tight, physical games.
Do you think Woodson needs to run more halfcourt plays for Novak? Leave us your comments below.