Joakim Noah is back (on Wednesday)

At long last, after a 30-game absence following thumb surgery, Joakim Noah will play on Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.

It’s hard to say how good the Bulls will be with Noah back and a full contingent of healthy players. Interestingly enough, Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus checked the math, and the math says the Bulls actually trended up with Noah out of action.

Pelton writes: “As my colleague Bradford Doolittle noted last week, Chicago has the league’s best point differential since Noah had hand surgery in mid-December, outscoring opponents by 7.6 points per game. (The runner-up might be even more surprising: the Orlando Magic, at plus-7.1.) … The most interesting aspect of how the Bulls have played without Noah is that their defense has actually improved without their 7-foot center. Chicago allowed 102.5 points per 100 possessions through Dec. 15 but has cut that to a 100.6 defensive rating since then, emerging as the league’s toughest D.”

Although Chicago’s D has been better than ever, the team’s O has been a little disappointing. The Bulls rank 19th in Pace (91.3), 18th in PPG (98.4) and 16th in Offensive Rating (106.7). Despite his reputation for defense, Noah’s biggest impact could be on the offensive end of the floor.

Doug Thonus of ChicagoNow writes: “Kurt Thomas makes 3.1 shots per 36 minutes.  He shoots a good percentage, but his volume is incredibly low.   Team’s aren’t sticking with Kurt Thomas and opening the floor up, and for the most part, Thomas isn’t making them pay for doing so. Joakim Noah makes 5.1 shots per 36 minutes and scores at a higher TS% than Thomas.  More makes, more volume, more efficiency.   He’s more dangerous on the pick and roll, because you have to defend him going to the basket where he can athletically finish. He’s a better passer, ball handler, and driver, so if you leave him open at the elbow, he can go straight into the paint and score, and if you rotate over on him he’ll hit the open man with the pass. … The Bulls offense is going to get a whole lot better with Noah out there.”

By the way, in case you haven’t heart, the ‘Melo-drama is apparently over: Carmelo Anthony is joining the Knicks. At first, the trade sent a shiver down my spine. The Bulls already have to contend with the Celtics, Heat and Magic. Now a new superteam in New York?

The Knicks paid a hefty price for ‘Melo — Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mosgov, a first round draft pick and cash — while getting significantly older (not to mention declining and overpaid) at the point guard position. And what about their depth? I mean, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman haven’t done much of anything this season.

And lest you think Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni and his run-and-gunnery will light a fire under these guys, I should point out that the Nuggets (pre-trade) ranked first in PPG (107.6), first in Offensive Rating (112.4) and third in Pace (95.7).

I’m inclined to agree with ESPN’s John Hollinger: “New York still gets its Melo-Stoudemire nucleus, but now lacks the supporting pieces to do anything important with that core. And by extending Melo now, they agree to lock him up at such an expensive price that, in concert with Stoudemire’s deal, it likely precludes making a run at Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard in 2012.”

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20 Responses to Joakim Noah is back (on Wednesday)

  1. Tae February 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Thorpe calls Noah the second best help-defender behind Garnet in the league today. That’s a pretty decent upgrade from Thomas.

    inkybreath February 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    Just caught this … apparently the Bulls are working out some DLeaguers …

  3. steverba February 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    I think they are working out the D-Leaguers to be Derrick’s new backup. Meaning they found a viable SG who can be had for C.J. Watson + a draft pick. Thoughts?

    GotNext February 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    Noah’s offensive IQ is one of his most underrated talents. Great passer and Thibs loves putting him at the top of the key. With his improved jump shot teams will have to respect him more and will in turn open up even more space for slashers and what not.

    The reason why the bulls got better defensively, I think, is because guys are completely buying into the schemes. It’s a total team effort. With Noah back, it will only improve. Even without him, I saw many games where opposing teams get absolutely nothing. It’s so simple too, just rotating and recovering, all it takes is effort and commitment. That’s why Bogans is still starting, Thibs values D over all else.

    Gorditadogg February 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Watson + JJ + draft pick = JR Smith.

    More likely though we want to have a pure point guard on the bench, and that will free up CJ to play more minutes at back-up 2, where he can be a scorer.

    Gorditadogg February 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    @GotNext- I agree 100%.

    Also, let’s not forget:

    Noah + Deng > Anthony

    Bulls have done a great job without Noah, I am looking forward to being at full-strength the last 28 games. We have a tough finishing schedule, with 16 games on the road. I am hoping for 20-8 down the stretch, if we win a couple more than that we have a chance for a 1 or 2 seed.

  7. Jimmy February 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    Interesting find on the D-league tryouts…that does make it interesting what will happen with Watson. Ultimately if we bring up a PG from the d-league, I cant imagine that we would keep Watson. Having Watson/Korver/Brewer at the 2 is too much (even if we have Brewer or Korver at the 3 with Watson at the 2). This is all said assuming that we would bring someone up before the trade deadline, so we can use Watson to bring in a SG.

    BFD February 22, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    Could one of the reasons we have statistically been better since Jo hurt his hand be because our schedule has been easier?

    Jake in Minnie February 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    I would like to point out it not that the Starters have gotten better on D, its that the 2nd unit anchored by Gibson and Asik have been really really hard to score on.

    Or that is what Hollinger is often claiming, and I am inclined to agree with him on that.

    inkybreath February 23, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    wow, JJ is on his way to Toronto for a pick. it will be fun watching him actually get some minutes!

    ah well.

    Savage February 23, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    Getting a late first rounder for JJ isn’t bad. Sad to see potential go but I think possible trade partners would likely rather have a first round pick than absorb salary and take on JJ. So maybe this is all in effort to get a SG without losing any of our core. Overall a good move especially since he gets no play and contributed nothing to the team this season.

    BoppinBob February 23, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    JJ we hardly knew ya. I wonder what the real story is with JJ. Was he uncoachable? Did he have a big head? Would he not commit to defense? Maybe he basketball IQ wasn’t very good. What ever it was Thibs wasn’t buying JJ that’s for sure. Now I almost believe that there could be a deadline deal.

    Tattooed Thug February 23, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    I salivate when recalling the Circus-trip Sacramento game when they (drool) made the Kings submit.

    Will broken, game won.

    Boozer and Noah compliment each other exceptionally well, and the comparative offensive stats you mentioned bode well, and if The Tornado’s going in, opponents will have to respect it. Also, I read that Jo’s thumb is still “weak and stiff,” so hesitation and floundering–naturally–are expected. Help- and transition-defense, closing-out, blocks, contests, et all, aren’t a concern, though. And the pace will pick up considerably. Plus, Boozer, apparently, thinks Noah’s developed a new offensive “weapon.” Curious. Taj has said Carlos improved his game.

    Excitement abound!

    MadKing February 23, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    I like how nobody mentioned that James Johnson was traded to Toronto today for a first round pick…

    MadKing February 23, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    Wait my bad, I searched “Johnson” and not JJ- terrible comment by me.

    BFD February 23, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    Hmmm…ESPN has rumors the Bulls are either going to try to get Anthony Parker now (we can get him without giving up any players, just a future pick) or try to get OJ Mayo (Probably have to give of Asik and a Pick or two to make that happen). (Crosses Fingers for OJ Mayo)

    Richard February 23, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    I don’t see how Anthony Parker is better than Kyle Korver. OJ Mayo would be a steal if we could get him back on track.

    The defensive numbers before&after Noah are definitely due to scheduling. Noah helps a lot on the fast break as well as in the half court. Looking forward to seeing him tomorrow!

  18. PTFC February 23, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    I traded Bogans and a 2nd round draft pick for Anthony Parker on NBA 2K11. Worked out well in video game land lol.

  19. DUNKATRON February 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    With all of these trades making the east so much better… if the bulls do not get a good, not suitable, GOOD shooting guard they will never make it out of the east. Management needs to make a trade or they will not get out of the east and derrick and joakims prime will be wasted

    Savage February 23, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    @Richard, I agree with you 100% I do not see how Parker is any real upgrade to our SG tandem we have now.

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