Steve Novak: Mad Bomber - Chris Trotman
Down goes Brown. The Knicks are unbeaten. Rookies are trying to find their footing. It's week two in the NBA. What's happening?
Last week's Around the League featured a photograph of Mike Brown. And now he's been fired. If Steve Novak comes down with a painful case of shingles this week, or gets run down in the garment district on his way to the Garden, I'll start using this power for good. Or I'll sell it to the highest bidder. Who would you like to see suffer?
Speaking of Brown, that was always an awkward match. But if you think he's the guy for the job, how can you change your mind 5 games in to the season? Terrible management. Further, I thought I was done having to pay attention to Phil Jackson, but it appears not.
The Knicks, on the other hand, are the last remaining unbeaten. They are doing it defensively (best dRtg. in the league) and making 3s, and it hasn't been a soft schedule. The teams they have beaten are a combined 13-2 in their games other than their losses to the Knicks. They will regress, but Mike Woodson can coach. He was the guy I wanted before Adelman seemed like a possibility.
A bonus to the Knicks fast start is that it gives me an excuse to write about one of the most unusual players in the league. Weird players are fun, and Steve Novak qualifies. There are other 3 point specialists, but perhaps nobody as extreme as Novak. Not only does he shoot (and make) them at one of the highest rates in history, but he does so while doing almost nothing else. There have been 17 player seasons in league history in which a player a) played 1000 minutes, and b) averaged 8+ 3PA per 36 minutes. Novak has two of them (and J.R. Smith has three). Last year, Novak became the first player in history to average 10 3PA attempts per 36, and among those 17 seasons, his 2011-2012 featured the highest 3P% by a significant margin. He's off to a slightly slower start this year, shooting "only" 42% from 3, and taking "only" 7.8 attempts per 36. I'm not sure whether Novak is a good player, but he's an interesting one.
23 rookies have played 50+ minutes so far. The Hornets have the best of them (Anthony Davis, who, except for getting his head in the way of his teammate's elbow is doing everything well), and the worst (Austin Rivers, purveyor of the aforementioned elbow, and shooting 22% on the season).
Among those 23 players, our own Alexey Shved has the 2nd best assist to turnover ratio, behind one of the nice stories in the league so far: Brian Roberts, also of the Hornets. Roberts is a 27 year old who played at the University of Dayton, wound up overseas in not the best European leagues in Israel and Germany, but caught on in New Orleans this season and is capably backing up Greivis Vasquez at the point.
Other quick rookie notes: Andre Drummond and Dion Waiters are off to better starts then I expected, Damian Lillard looks like a future star in Portland, Hoopus favorite Jae Crowder is being useful for Dallas, and Thomas Robinson is struggling in Sacramento. We'll have more on the rookie class as the season develops.
The Always Useful Bullet Points:
- That loss to Toronto is beginning rankle even more, as it stands as the Raptors only win so far. This despite having the league leader in WS/48 in the magnificent (but now injured) Kyle Lowry.
- When you are short on talent, the good players you do have better play well. When they don't you are the 2012 Detroit Pistons, and you are 0-7. I'm looking at you, Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey. They've played six of their seven away from home, and they aren't this bad, but they are staring up out of a deep hole. They do get a home game on Monday. Yay! Against the Thunder.
- Our favorite ex-Wolves are doing what they do. Well, Wes Johnson is out of the rotation in Phoenix, while Mike Beasley is hoisting away (26.5 usage rate) inefficiently as ever (.415 TS%). Anthony Randolph isn't playing in Denver.
- Miami's offensive efficiency is staggering. A team .575 efg%. Presumably, Ray Allen will miss a shot sometime. Their passing and creating is ruthless.
- When you are missing your two best guys, but a) have a great coach, and b) significantly upgrade your talent, you can survive it. When you are coached by Randy Wittman, and A,J, Price is leading your team in minutes, you are the 0-5 Washington Wizards.