According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent time this summer working with Joakim Noah, and Kareem “expects [Noah] to have expanded post game this season.”
There are 38,387 reasons to think Kareem knows how to score the basketball (hint: that figure represents the record he holds for the most total points in NBA history). That’s not Abdul-Jabbar’s only number one all-time ranking. He’s also the NBA’s career leader in Offensive Win Shares. (Rounding out the top five in that category are Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and…John Stockton. Bet you didn’t expect to see Stockton in the top five did you? Karl Malone is ranked sixth.)
And in case you suffer from the misconception that the Sky Hook was the only weapon in Kareem’s offensive arsenal, you should probably watch the following video:
There’s no question that the Sky Hook was Kareem’s go-to move, but he had others. Many others. Moreover, Kareem knew how to get position, developed an excellent sense of what the defense was giving him, and had both excellent footwork and a soft shooting touch. These are all keys to post play.
Kareem was also a solid offensive rebounder and a deft passer…skills Noah already has in abundance.
No, what Joakim needs (and what he needed to learn from Abdul-Jabbar) is improved scoring ability. Last season, Jo regressed as a scorer both in terms of points (from 11.7 in 2010-11 to 10.2 in 2011-12) and field goal percentage (from 52.5 to 50.9). According to Hoopdata, Noah converted only 58.7 percent of his shots at the rim, a dismal 34.6 percent of his shots from 3-9 feet and an embarrassing 21.7 percent from 10-15 feet. He did knock down 43 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet…but that’s not where you want your near-seven-footer shooting from unless his name is Dirk Nowitzki.
In addition to footwork and post positioning, Noah could also stand to develop more of a scorer’s mentality. Most of the time when Jo gets the ball, he’s thinking pass. With the way he hesitates, it seems like he regards shooting as a last resort.
A lot of that comes with confidence in one’s shooting ability and ability to just flat out score. I’ve never seen that from Noah. Which makes me wonder how much Kareem’s teaching can help him. I believe Noah can learn the skills, hone his shooting, continue to develop his hook, and so on. But can he adopt a scoring mindset?
Time will tell.