Joakim Noah warms the thang up prior to Sunday's win over Los Angeles (Getty Images)
I think I speak for quite a few Chicago Bulls fans when I say that Joakim Noah is my favorite Bull since the championship era featuring Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and David Vaughn. We may not emulate his off-court habits or jibe his love of all things reggae-ish, but Noah’s guile, smarts, and all-out style can’t help but be admired to no end. He is the ultimate, “wouldn’t want to play against him/would kill to have him on your team”-guy.
Despite two consecutive All-Star berths and his national TV ubiquity dating back to his days at Florida, Noah remains somewhat underrated. His offensive skills are as significant as his top-flight work on the other end of the floor, and he’s done fantastic work (for the second straight year) basically running Chicago’s offense with Derrick Rose (for the second straight year) out for the season.
Part of that offensive edge comes from his perimeter game, one that includes a squirrelly tornado of a jump shot that Noah shows no hesitation in unleashing. It helped put the Lakers away on Sunday afternoon in a Chicago win, and Noah credits the mental edge of that jumper to be just as important as the two points that go on the board.
"I'm just happy it went down," Noah said. "Because I know that my jump shot is so ugly that when I knock it down it's demoralizing to the other team. It was a big jump shot for me."
If you’ve forgotten what the thing looks like, via C.J. Fogler, take a look:
Now, it should be noted that Noah’s shooting percentages have gone down this season in comparison to a fantastic run of things in 2012-13 …
… but that’s hardly the point.
Chicago needs all the offense it can get, and when Noah is able to spread the floor to either shoot or initiate his ever-improving driving game (seriously, the guy is a beast when he goes left), the Bulls actually approach, dare we say, competent levels on that end. They’re never going to be great, what with Rose out and Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler often trading clangs back and forth, but Noah makes it so the Rose and Luol Deng-less Bulls are historically bad on that end.
Though Joakim had to basically punt all of October and most of November (while he got back into shape) with an underreported groin strain, he’s done well to up his averages to 11.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and a combined 2.5 blocks/steals – with that latter number belying his go-to role in the Chicago defense. In January, a fully healthy Noah averaged 13.6 points, 14.1 rebounds, three combined blocks/steals and a whopping 5.8 assists per game.
Nearly six assists per game for a center with absolutely nobody to pass to, on the punchless Bulls.
So, yes, the demoralization helps. But for a fan base that has been hit with repeated shots to the gut – between the Rose injuries, the Deng deal, and the notion that both Noah and similarly-improving Taj Gibson may be in their 30s by the time this franchise re-aligns itself – we’ll take all we can get.
Because, from October until spring, we get Joakim Noah. That’s enough to keep any fan going.
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