Just when San Antonio Spurs forward Steve Novak found his way out of a losing culture with the Los Angeles Clippers and onto a winning team earlier this season with the Dallas Mavericks, things were about to turn south quick.
Novak had just enough games as a Maverick to get comfortable, but he’d have to readjust quickly. He was waived and with no suitors initially, Novak turned to the D-League to try to play his way back into the NBA with the Reno Bighorns.
After two games, and averaging 18.5 points on 64 percent shooting from beyond the arch, the Spurs came calling with a 10-day contract in hand.
Novak was officially signed on February 8, and in his first game in silver and black, on the road against Detroit, he hit a three-pointer in the one minute of playing time he received, possibly a sign of things to come.
On February 22nd, Novak’s stay in San Antonio was extended with another 10-day contract. At the time, I chalked it up to having another non-rotation three-point shooter that could play some spot minutes while James Anderson was working his way back into shape.
Many in San Antonio thought Novak would not make it past his second 10-day contract with Matt Bonner coming back from injury and Anderson well on his way back,
Boy, were we wrong.
On March 4, Novak found out he would be in San Antonio for the remainder of the season. The guessing and hoping that he might be around for longer than 10 days was over, and now Novak could exhale and let himself get comfortable again.
“It was great (to be signed for the remainder of the season). It would be tough to find a better place, that’s for sure.” Novak said on Monday night. ” I was very happy. You know I was with Dallas, then I was released and picked up here. If I would’ve picked a spot, I couldn’t pick a better one.”
According to Novak, part of what makes San Antonio the ideal landing spot are the 13 other guys he shares the Spurs locker room with. He said the players made him feel welcomed and at home when he joined the team in February.
“The guys are great, it’s a veteran team, it’s a professional team. It’s really all business,” Novak said. “You come in and do your job and you’re loved. I think they’re definitely a good group of guys off the court too, which is huge.”
When Novak was originally signed, Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk commented about how well Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are at picking up players who fit in with the team.
“No franchise in the league is better at picking guys like Novak up and fitting them into roles where they can succeed,” Helin said. “They have a reputation for finding hidden gems, but it really is about the Spurs finding guys who fit roles in their system very well. We’ll see if Novak can be another one of those.”
Novak seems to be fitting in fine, and if his last two games are any indication, he could be stepping into a bigger role soon.
On Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats, Novak made his presence felt immediately and in just 18 minutes of playing time, he finished the game with 19 points on 60 percent shooting from the field and 62 percent on his three pint attempts.
“It was a game where we didn’t want to have a letdown after the Dallas win,” Novak said. “Coach just kinda put me in and, to be honest, we just got the ball in the right spots, and it’s just really easy to play out there with the way the ball moves.”
Two night’s later, on Monday against the Golden State Warriors, Novak did it again.
In 18 minutes, he finished with 13 points and five rebounds. His shooting percentages were even more impressive – 83 percent from the field and 75 percent on his threes.
“I think that’s my role, to come in and spread the floor, make a few shots, but there’s no doubt I have to stay ready because you never know when those passes are going to come.”
With the emergence of Novak, and the chance that he will receive even more minutes with Tim Duncan out for what is expected to be two weeks, the Spurs have yet another player that can contribute to their balanced scoring attack.
He proved as much when he became the seventh Spurs player to lead the team in scoring this season.
“I think (balanced scoring) has always kinda been a trait of the Spurs. I could be mistaken but it seems like they always have a lot of guys who can get it done,” Novak said.
“I think the more we spread the scoring, the better off we are. If it’s just one or two guys, it’s difficult to be consistent and I think that’s why we’ve been able to have the year we’ve had. I’ve only been here a few months but I think that has a lot to do with it.”
With the playoffs coming up, having another three-point threat waiting on the bench will be an asset.
Then he could possibly take the role of another former Spurs player who shares his first name, Steve Kerr.