After having an insider perspective of the San Antonio Spurs’ brand of basketball, it is not surprising to see new head coach Quin Snyder implementing some aspects into the Utah Jazz schemes. Likewise, it is not shocking that general manager Dennis Lindsey is adopting some similar mindsets when it comes to basketball personnel decisions and efforts. San Antonio is an incredible franchise to emulate and the Jazz are not the only ones trying to incorporate some Spursian 1 approaches where feasible.
A prime example: Steve Novak. In San Antonio, Matt Bonner became a vital contributor to the Spurs’ success over the past eight seasons, thanks to his solid shooting and his ability to create space, thus opening up the offense. In many ways, Novak mirrors Bonner’s skill set.
Novak’s acquistion is not a head-scratcher, and not just due to the on-court similarities to Bonner. Given Utah’s stretch 4 presence over the past several years, the team has long valued a smooth-shooting big man. Former All-Star and new Jazz Ambassador, Mehmet Okur, was actually a stretch 5 whose perimeter prowess freed up room in which forward Carlos Boozer could maneuver. And Marvin Williams did an admirable job filling this role last season. The history is there.
It’s overwhelmingly clear that Novak was brought in to help shore up Utah’s weak outside marksmanship. It’s his bread and butter. His forte. It’s what he does. And he does it really well. A career 43.2 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Novak has been above 40 percent six of his eight NBA seasons. That is an elite skill.
He can shoot all around the floor– he has boasted a true shooting percentage of .599 or better six times. In his meager 2011 playing time, Novak was able to achieve a TS% of .737. That is excellent. Furthermore, he’s an 89.2 percent free throw shooter. He just doesn’t get to the line much, given the nature of his game.
Novak is not just a prolific 3-point shooter, but as his career has progressed, the trey has become his primary contribution. More than three of every four made shots from the field have been trifectas. In limited playing time with the Toronto Raptors last campaign, a whopping 86.7 percent of all his made field goals were of the 3-point variety.
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Novak’s propensity to connect from afar fits in very well with Snyder’s open offense 2. He will help bring the spacing that is needed for the offense to be effective. Fortunately for Utah, Novak’s best seasons came under the fast-paced Mike D’Antoni New York Knick teams. Novak was an major contributor playing during Jeremy Lin’s incredible Linsanity run, posting 8.8 ppg and 1.9 rpg in 20123. That led to his current contract, which has paid the sweet shooter well.
Naturally, he’d get paid more if there simply was more to his game. Novak is simply a poor rebounder, especially for a 6’10” big man– a 10.8 Total Rebound Percentage. His offensive boarding is practically non-existent, with his hovering around the 3-point line being a big factor. Defense is a struggle. Even though he can effectively create mismatches on offense, he tends to be victimized by physical opponents. Novak’s post-up defense can be an adventure.
To his credit, Novak rarely coughs the ball up– a 4.3 Turnover Percentage (on a low Usage rate) and he is a willing and capable passer. So there are those pluses. But overall, he has glaring deficiencies that are only covered up by his shooting to a certain degree. This is all why he’s not always been a regular player– it’s sometimes too much to compensate for. That is why he will be looked upon a secondary rotational player–someone who will most likely see just a few minutes of PT each evening. Novak can step in whenever injuries or foul trouble facilitate a greater need. Just don’t expect he will be more than a minor player on the court for Snyder and the Jazz.
Off the court, Novak’s locker room presence will be huge. The coaching staff has repeatedly given him glowing reports for his mentoring abilities and his even keel approach to the game. He has been around for some time and is clearly the senior player on the roster. Unless Dahntay Jones makes the opening day roster, Novak is the only Jazz player over 27 years of age.
He is on the payroll the next two years, guaranteed $3.5 million per. Not a bad price for such a stellar shooter. It also did not hurt that the deal that netted Novak (and sent out former Jazz guard Diante Garrett) also brought an additional second-round pick.
Novak will be looked upon for shooting and veteran leadership. Snyder and Lindsey will hope he can be a Bonner-like player who can thrive in particular situations.