Inside Report: Mavs Spotlight: Stevenson, Novak 3-point specialists
Sharpshooters DeShawn Stevenson and Steve Novak are both trying to make an impact for the Mavericks with their ability to stretch the court and knock down 3-pointers, writes Earl K. Sneed.
Consistent 3-point shooting can lift a team in clutch moments. Sharpshooters DeShawn Stevenson and Steve Novak both hope that they can develop into consistent marksmen from long range for the Mavericks this season.
Stevenson was called upon to be a defensive specialist for the Mavs in 2009-10, starting five of his 24 games with the team and often times counted on to shut down the other team's best perimeter scorer. But this offseason before heading into his 11th season as an NBA vet, Stevenson spent time tweaking his repertoire from outside hoping to earn more minutes and more involvement offensively.
"I've just been working with Coach [Rick Carlisle] and got a couple of things change, like holding the ball," Stevenson said of his shooting changes. "Just being ready, being focused, shooting the ball and just letting it fly...They know that I can play defense, and if the shot is going done it's just another addition to where I can get some minutes and go out there and play hard.
"That's what I need to do to get on the court. Obviously, my defense is one great thing. But if I go out there and knock down shots like I'm supposed to, I think I can be a great addition to this team."
After hitting on close to 34 percent from behind the 3-point arch in his career, Stevenson hopes a new shooting motion will lead to 40 percent or better from deep. He has already connected on 3-of-6 shots from 3-point land this preseason.
"He's going to be ready no matter what we need from him," Carlisle said of Stevenson's consistency despite inconsistent playing time. "He has spent a lot of time on his shooting. He's made progress with it, which is great. And we know that he's a guy that we can always depend on as a veteran to give us hard defense and he's going to knock in open shots.
"He's an important part of our team, even though I don't think a lot of people see him in our picture as playing a role...There's opportunity there at the 2 position and DeShawn's a guy that's always going to be ready."
Another guy that's stayed ready this preseason has been Novak, a four-year pro hoping to land a roster spot with Dallas after two seasons apiece with Houston and the L.A. Clippers. Novak has swished in 40 percent of his 3-point shots in 195 career regular-season games.
It's that fine shooting that the hybrid 6-foot-10 forward has shown when the opportunity has presented itself in the Mavs' first four exhibition games, hitting on 56 percent from the floor in his three appearances.
"I know that's what I'm out there to do," Novak said of his shooting. "Guys kept putting the ball in my hands...so I knew they were counting on me."
"He can flat-out shoot and he's always ready," Carlisle said of Novak, echoing his sentiments about Stevenson.
Now the two long-range assassins hope that they can bring their niches to the court and help the Mavs rebound from consecutive exhibition losses. The Mavericks return to the hardwood Wednesday when they travel to Grand Rapids, Mich. to do battle with the Detroit Pistons. It could be an opportunity for Stevenson or Novak to shine.
"Obviously, there's a lot of different thoughts on preseason. But my personal opinion is that it's good to get in the habit of winning," Novak said. "Everyone out there is an NBA player and you should be able to give yourself a chance no matter who's out there. The more you win, the more it becomes a habit. And I don't think 1-3 is what we wanted at this point. But I also think that we won't overreact and think this is how the season is going to be."
The Mavericks fly to Grand Rapids to duel with the Pistons on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. CT. The team will then head to Chicago Friday for a second run-in with Derrick Rose and the Bulls, before returning briefly to Dallas over the weekend for practice, only to head back out and travel to Orlando to face off with the Magic on Oct. 20.
The Mavericks return to the American Airlines Center Oct. 22 when they host the Houston Rockets to conclude the preseason. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the American Airlines Center box office, on Mavs.com or by calling 214-474-MAVS (6287).
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