Name: Joakim Noah (pronounced JO-a-kim)
Weight: 232 pounds
Birth Date: February 25, 1985 (25 years old)
Birth Place: New York, NY
Nicknames: Dr. No, Jo, Jo-No, Noah Kim-Joa, The Joker
Drafted: 2007, 1st Round, 9th overall by Chicago
Experience: 3 seasons
Previous teams: None
Expect: Rebounding, defense, crazy energy, crazier hair
Don’t expect: Any slacking off
Last season, Joakim was breaking out. Seriously. He ranked in the top 10 in Rebounds Per Game (11.0), Defensive Rebounds Per Game (7.6), Offensive Rebounds Per Game (3.4), Rebounding Rate (20.4) and Defensive Rebounding Rate (12.9) and Defensive Rating (101.0). Furthermore, he set career highs in Minutes Per Game (30.1), Free Throw Percentage (.744), Points Per Game (10.7), Blocks Per Game (1.6) and most of his advanced stats as well (Player Efficiency Rating, Assist Percentage, Usage Percentage and all his rebounding stats).
Noah also had 28 double-doubles last season. That’s more than Kevin Durant, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Andrew Bynum and Dirk Nowitzki. And it’s only four fewer than LeBron James. It’s no wonder Charles Barkley thought Noah should have been an All-Star.
I’m just sayin’.
As 2010 began, Joakim was playing the best basketball of his career. His January numbers: 14 games, 13.4 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 52 percent shooting from the field and 88 percent shooting from the line (52-for-59). It’s probably no coincidence that the Bulls went 10-5 that month. It was their best month of the 2009-10 season.
Unfortunately, Noah developed a nagging case of plantar fasciitis. In February, he played only six games, starting twice. In March, he again played only six games, all off the bench. The Bulls went 12-17 during those two months, including 4-11 in March. That was their worst month of the season.
But Noah was ready for the playoffs, during which he averaged 14.8 PPG (52 percent from the field, 94 from the line), 13.0 RPG adn 2.6 APG against a pretty ginormous Cleveland frontcourt. Unfortunately, the Bulls lasted only five games.
Still, as long as he stays healthy, I think Noah could become an All-Star this season.
Prior to last season, Noah’s offense was extremely limited, with almost all of his scoring coming from layups, dunks and putbacks. And, frankly, he almost always looked hesitant to shoot. As a result, unless he was within a few feet of the basket, his defender would sag way off him to provide extra help defense and disrupt passing lanes.
During the summer of 2009, there were rumors that Noah had spent significant time adding strength, working on his post game, and improving his lower body mechanics and overall balance.
In addition to his usual array of around-the-basket stuff, Noah added a hook shoot (either righty or lefty, but usually righty) and even started shooting his awkward more frequently…and more successfully. In 2009-10, Joakim wasn’t going crazy from the outside, but he attempted 100 more outside shots than he did the previous season. What’s more, he shot 40 percent of better in multiple zones. And according to Hoopdata, Jo hit 40 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet and 43 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet. I’m not saying I want Joakim chucking it up from the outside…but being able to stick a jumper now and again is a nice attribute for your big man to have.
The new skills made Noah more aggressive. Now, when his defender stood back, Noah tried to make him pay. And it showed. In 2009-10, Noah set a new career-high in points (21). He had 37 games in which he scored in double figures and three games of 20+ points. The previous season, he scored in double figures only 20 games and never once scored as many as 20 points. This is especially meaningful when you consider that Noah played 16 fewer games in 2009-10 and spent the better part of three months hobbled by a foot injury.
If Noah continues to expand his offensive game, the sky’s the limit.
Scoring aside, Noah is also a willing and crafty passer, a demon on the offensive glass, and capable setter of screens and picks. When he scores a bucket, it’s a bonus. However, Noah is just as effective off the ball. He doesn’t need shots to contribute, which is a valuable quality considering the fact that guys like Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng will need their fair share of touches.
Whatever Noah still lacks in offensive proficiency, he makes up for in defensive intensity. While it’s true that bigger, stronger post players (like Shaq or even Andrew Bogut) can usually outmuscle him down low, he’s pretty accomplished in most other areas. His transition defense is fantastic, he can pick up smaller, quicker players on switches, and he rotates extremely well. He can even press and trap when asked to do so, mostly due to his natural athleticism and (more importantly) his willingness to scramble all over the floor.
Last season, Noah ranked 14th in the NBA in Blocks Per Game (1.56) and 17th in Blocks Per 48 Minutes (2.49). Those numbers represente a minor backslide from the 2008-09 campaign, which was due primarily to the plantar fasciitis. During that February-March stretch in which he appeared in a mere 12 games, Noah managed only six blocked shots (including a measely one block in February). However, in eight April games — by which time he was finally healthy — Noah had 17 blocked shots.
And anyway, as I’ve already mentioned, Noah still managed to rank in the top in Defensive Rebounding, Defensive Rebounding Rate, and Defensive Rating. Despite a broken wheel. When healthy, the kid’s got it. That’s all I’m saying.
Don’t forget: Tom Thibodeau’s league-leading defense in Boston was predicated on Kevin Garnett acting as the team’s defensive anchor. KG was the foundation of that system because of his natural skills, dedication to defense, court IQ and the ability to communicate effectively with his teammates. Noah has similar capabilities. Expect him to become Thibodeau’s new defensive anchor.
Noah has true passion a real thrill for competition. He almost always plays at a frenetic, high-energy pace and he would walk face-first through a brick wall to win. You want someone like that on your team. His energy, enthusiasm and sheer desire make him almost untouchable from a trade standpoint. His intangibles — not to mention his not inconsiderable tangibles — are key components to team victories.
Noah is everything you want in a teammate: talented, passionate, driven and unselfish. He’ll probably never be a 20 PPG scorer. However, he has developed the ability to make significant offensive contributions while also beng a big-time game-changer on the defensive end.
Here’s what Joakim Noah does: