In addition to improving his defense and rebounding, did you realize that Joakim Noah improved his jump shot last season?
In case you’re not familiar with the NBA.com Hotspots feature, here’s a link. Now, take a peek at Jo’s hotspots chart from the 2008-09 season:
Now check out his hotspots chart from 2009-10:
In 2008-09, Noah attempted only 13 shots outside of the “around the rim” area. According to Hoopdata, he didn’t even attempt a shot from 16-23 feet.
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.
Now, I’m not in any way suggesting that Noah transformed himself into a crack outside shooter. And no, I certainly don’t want him chucking up jumpers instead of attacking the rim any more than I wanted Tyrus Thomas doing that when he was still a member of the team.
That said, developing the ability to knock down the occasional outside shot is good for Joakim’s game and his teammates’ games as well. Defenders learned that if Noah was out on the perimeter, they could sag waaaay off him to double other Bulls players, disrupt passing lanes, etc. What’s more, when the ball swung to Jo, his defender didn’t even bother to run out on him.
If Noah can hit midrange jumpers with relative consistency, opposing defenses won’t be able to cheat off him and muck things up for Chicago’s other offensive players. Furthermore, it might allow Jo to develop a Brad Miller-like head-fake-and-drive move.
Frankly, I liked seeing Joakim become more aggressive on the offensive end last season. In addition to the random jumper, Jo also developed a little jump hook with either hand (although he does tend to favor his right hand on hooks). That kind of assertiveness should help his game continue to grow.