According to John Hollinger’sPlayer Efficiency Rating, Joakim Noah (23.36) currently ranks behind only Dwight Howard (28.21) and Tim Duncan (25.04) among centers. (Noah ranks 15thoverall among all players.) He’s also in the top 10 among centers in True Shooting Percentage (10th at .625), Assist Ratio (10th at 17.3), Offensive Rebounding Rate (10th at 13.2), Defensive Rebounding Rate (10th at 27.2), Rebounding Rate (8th at 19.9), Value Added (5th at 34.7) and Estimated Wins Added (5th at 1.2).
To sum up: Noah is one of the league’s best centers based on almost every advanced metric Hollinger currently has to offer on his ESPN page. (Go here for an explanation of each.)
If you want some raw numbers, overall Noah ranks 1st in Block Per Foul (1.08), 6th in Blocks Per Game (2.33), 6th in Offensive Rebounds Per Game (3.8), 7th in Rebounds Per Game (11.0), 8th in Field Goal Percentage (.609), and 9th in Rebounds Per 48 Minutes.
What’s more, Noah is one of the big reasons that the Bulls currently rank 8th in Defensive Rating (101.4 points per 100 possessions). After all, he’s second on the team with a Defensive Rating of 97.
So…who expected this? I mean, of everyone on the team, Joakimis (so far) the only one player who is demonstrably better than he was last season. His intensity and determination has remained pretty much constant since college, but his other skills have improved through what appears to have been a summer of blood, sweat and tears. Noah is stronger. He’s added offensive moves — including a decent (if terribly ugly) midrangeshot and a hook shot witheither hand — because he realized his lack of scoringchops was hurting the team (since his defender could always sag off and help pester his teammates).
Honestly, most of the talk from the end of last season into the beginning of this season focused on whether Tyrus Thomas was finally going to explode out of his Shell of Potential and become a major force for the Bulls. Instead, and somewhat quietly, it’s been Noah who has made a leap forward.
Via Not Qualified To Comment: Apparently, Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey showed up at a Bulls practice and ate (with yummy salsa!) one of his old articles. No, really! According to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Morrissey showed up at practice carrying an old copy of his sports section and a jar of salsa. Apparently on draft night 2007, he wrote that if Joakim Noah becomes a useful player within three years, he’ll eat his column with salsa.” Rick Morrissey: Giving new meaning to eating one’s words.