With Derrick Rose out recovering from an ACL injury, every member of the Bulls needs to step up in his absence. Joakim Noah understands this and is having the best season of his career so far.
Noah is not known for his offensive skills, but this season, he has shown much improvement in that area. Averaging a career-high 15.0 points, Noah is just behind Luol Deng in scoring for the Bulls. He has also shown more confidence in his “tornado” jump shot, which has been pretty effective thus far. Noah is also leading the team in field goal percentage at 50%. This new-found improvement is likely a result of Noah’s off-season workouts with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Whether it truly is or not, it is great to see Noah flourish offensively.
Scoring is not the only offensive area Noah has improved in. Bulls fans are familiar with Noah’s passing skills. They are quite underrated, especially for a man of his size, but this season is proving to be his most effective one in terms of assists. He is averaging 3.3 assists a game, a career best. With Rose’s absence, it helps to have Noah’s performance increase. He is also still crashing the boards as he has been doing, leading the team with 4.2 offensive rebounds.
The defensive intensity Noah brings is still consistent as well. He leads the team in rebounding (9.2 rebounds per game), blocks (2.5 per game), and steals (1.7 per game). Not only is he leading the team defensively, but Noah is just behind Deng in minutes per game as well playing an average of 38:51 minutes.
Last season, Deng established how good of an overall player he really is. He flourished with Tom Thibodeau as the coach and was named to his first All-Star game. This season could be the equivalent for Noah. He is putting in the effort and receiving the results. Time will only tell if this remains consistent enough for a spot on the All-Star team. Until then, it is tremendous to have Noah step up and be a leader in more ways than one.