Joakim Noah (07-08 Synopsis)

7 05 2008

There’s a funny thing about polarizing sports figures, you either love them or you hate them. After a year of Joakim Noah, I’m actually starting to like him.

Joakim Noah – Chicago Bulls Center
Measurements: 6’11” – 232 lbs.
Experience: Rookie, 23 years old
From: University of Florida

Season Highs

Points – 18 (vs. Milwaukee)
Rebounds – 20 (vs. Cleveland)
Assists – 4 (4x)
Steals – 4 (2x)
Blocks – 4 (3x)
Minutes Played – 40 (vs. Cleveland)

What This Year Proved

Joakim Noah showed the same tenacity and hustle that he displayed while in college. After Ben Wallace’s departure, Joakim must have led the team in rebounds tipped to himself. The man is tenacious.

Joakim’s a very good interior passer. He’s also quite adept at passing out of the block. Unlike the majority of big men, Joakim on the block isn’t a black hole for basketballs. He’s very much willing to toss it out and allow the ball to reverse or let himself re-set on the block.

The rookie big man also showed that he’s got some defensive skills. Oddly enough, I think his man defense is better than his off-ball defense. You would think it’s the other way around but I think you can catch Joakim watching the ball too often. He tends to drift when he’s playing weak side D. Then he overplays on help penetration, allowing his man easy buckets at the rim.

When Chicago plays zone, he’s marginally better because he’s still in college mode. Joakim still puts a hand on opponents in the zone rather than just shuffling his feet.

He has also proved that he’s willing to learn and capable of improving. His numbers in November were 3.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 steals. He steadily improved his game throughout the season. His improvement as well as an increase in playing time — mutually inclusive — lead to quite an increase. In April, his numbers were 10.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.6 steals.

Quote Him

“Sometimes the media should think before writing their stories. [They wrote that] I got into a ‘physical altercation’ with the strongest guy in the league? Do you think I’m stupid?” — from SLAM, when approached about why he allegedly fought with Ben Wallace

Looking Forward

Joakim tends to overpass, especially while on the block. I’ve noticed that when he has a good shot, instead of taking it up strong over the defense, he’ll try to force it around his man to Tyrus Thomas or Drew Gooden. Jim Boylan and the coaching staff obviously got on his case about this eventually. Towards the end of the season, Joakim was starting to actually look at the basket when the ball was in his hands.

Drastic improvement should be welcomed on the offensive end. The Bulls should teach him a few go to moves that he can employ with his back to the basket. Joakim’s got a little baby hook that he should shoot with more confidence. Drawing a few more plays up for him can really increase his confidence long-term.

Season Grade: B+

Joakim did a good job this year. He filled in as a role player early but really came on strong towards the end. Once inserted into the starting line-up, he almost doubled his productivity. Joakim is a bit outspoken, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that he has no credibility as a rookie and he tended to speak up at times when no one else would. You can’t blame a guy for caring though…

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9 responses

8 05 2008
picodulce

Joakim Noah made me almost want to go to Bulls games.

Almost.

Side note: I had a chance to see him in high school (he went to prep school in Jersey, my friend attended the same school) but we couldn’t coordinate. But his game, and Josh Boone’s game… guys like that are flourishing under the slightly faster and less isolation-play NBA. Hope their next coach takes advantage of Noah well.

8 05 2008
FeetinthePaint

Josh Boone. Very nice comparison. Damn, I wish I thought of that.

8 05 2008
Ben K

I am an Ohio State fan, so I cant like Noah.

But I dont think I would anyways.

8 05 2008
Jeff

I actually used to play with him in NYC. When he was a teenager, he’d play pickup at the NYU gym. The only thing we knew about him was that he was Yannick’s kid, he was outrageously tall, and he was a fantastic player.

After he left for college, I totally forgot about him until I saw him on the cover of SI during the 2006 Final Four. I was like, “That’s the freak that used to pin all my shots in NY!”

The point of all this is that I always found him to be a nice kid–polite, a good sport, and not a guy who acted like he was above the game (although he was). He comes from a non-typical background for a pro baller (ie, rich), and has quite a bit more to say than the average player, which is refreshing in an age of rote interviewing and mind-numbing controversy-avoidance. Unfortunately, his candor and immaturity sometimes get him in trouble with traditionalists.

Whatever, I like him.

8 05 2008
FeetinthePaint

That’s the funny thing about fans, Jeff. They want their athletes to be “real.” They want people that are willing to open up to the media (Tim Duncan).

And when they get people that say what’s on their mind, it revolts them. As if the audacity of a personality should be reserved for “normal people.”

I was actually using this Joakim season synopsis as a set-up for a post later on in the week…

Anyway, how old was Joakim when you guys balled? I’m sure his talent translates differently when he’s not surrounded by NBA talent. What was his game like when you guys played?

8 05 2008
Read to Achieve: « FOULEDOUT!

[…] Feet in the Paint takes a look back at Joakim Noah’s rookie season. […]

8 05 2008
fouledout

nice post.. noah is one of my favorite rookies along with al horford and jamario moon..

9 05 2008
FeetinthePaint

Thanks for the props, man. And Horford is a beast!

9 05 2008
Jeff

I first started seeing him at the gym when he was 14 or 15 and he was already very impressive, playing with decent players 10 years older than he was. By the time he was 17-18, he had grown to 6-10 and he was playing on a different level than the rest of us. He just came by to dominate and mess around. He’d play point, shoot threes, handle and distribute. But when the game got close, he’d drop into the paint and take over. With his length and athleticism, he was able to deny every shot except long threes.

Whenever I’ve played with players at this level, I’ve been struck by how different they are from me. A player like Noah, even at 17, seemed like he was a different species than me–a bigger, stronger, more athletic species.

The last time I saw him, I asked where he was going to college, and he started reeling off the schools he was thinking about: Duke, Michigan, Florida…

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