Despite Tyson Chandler's slow start and Toney Douglas' struggles as a playmaker in the Knicks' offense, it's in fact the lack of depth and many questions surrounding the team's bench that will ultimately bring them down. That is, if the Knicks do not eventually find a balance and receive a boost off the bench.
Last season it came from Douglas and the gem that was uncovered in Shawne Williams.
Williams became a fan-favorite and was a sharp shooter from either corner of the court. He shot so efficiently through the first half of the season that he even garnered consideration for the "Sprite Three-Point Content"during the NBA's All-Star Weekend. Williams topped off a career season under Coach Mike D'Antoni and finished the season shooting over 40% from beyond the arc on his way to averaging a nice contribution of 7.1 points per game.
With Douglas now in the starting lineup and Williams now playing ball across the Hudson for the Nets, the Knicks' bench has been left somewhat bare.
Aside from strong options like Mike Bibby and Bill Walker, the Knicks should also look to Steve Novak for a solid contribution off the bench.
Novak's style of play signals that he could seamlessly fill the void left by Williams, should he be given ample time on the court. He knocked down a nice shot from beyond the arc during Wednesday's contest, but if he develops a flow and get involved in the offense the way Williams had, Novak could solidify his spot in the rotation. A player with his shooting ability in certain spots is essential in an offense that has players whom enjoy driving through the lane like many of the Knicks do.
It should also be noted that Novak's best season came in 2008-09 while playing for the Clippers, succeeding in similar fashion as Williams did with the Knicks. Novak averaged 6.9 points on nearly 42% from beyond the arc and an equally as impressive 91% from the charity stripe.
Because Knicks fans have only been treated to a little over 13 minutes of Novak's talents on the court entering tonight's game against the Lakers, take a look at two of the sharp shooter's finest moments in the league to date.
This game winner against the Nets finds Novak (then a member of the Clippers) the beneficiary of a pass from Baron Davis. The Knicks can only hope they are privy to this sort of play sooner than later.
The above clip from yet another game winner by Novak (then a member of the Rockets) shows not only that he can hit the big shot under pressure, but that his uncanny ability to hit the three-ball often may indeed take precedent over more prominent scoring teammates like Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Novak's low profile status (next to star teammates) and strong stroke from downtown can ultimately prove to be a deadly combo for the Knicks this season.
This would give the team the unique position of planting offensive juggernauts Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony as decoys, watching opponents guard them, only to watch Novak get the ball in the corner and sink a shot late in games. The way the 6'10 Novak can spread the floor will force opponents to leave a Knick (whether it be him or not) open on the court more often than not.
If you didn't get enough of Novak from the above clips, and cannot wait to see him check in against the Lakers tonight, watch the clip below full with a bevy of Novak highlights, including many from his college days at Marquette playing alongside NBA superstar to be, Dwyane Wade.