Joakim Noah’s performance this past season overlooked the fact the Chicago Bulls had to spend yet another season without Derrick Rose. He was named an NBA All-Star, stepped up as the team’s leader once both Luol Deng and Rose were out of the picture and had his best season in his now seven-year career.
Pre All-Star Weekend
Noah only missed two games in the entire season, both of which came before All-Star weekend. One was because of a bruised right thigh, and the other was a result of an unspecified illness. Other than that, though, Noah remained healthy and played well.
He averaged a double-double of 11.9 points and 11.5 rebounds in 34.0 minutes of playing time. Along with that, Noah also averaged 4.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks.
Beginning on Dec. 28, during the Bulls’ 105-83 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Noah began his 18-game double-digit rebounding streak with 10 rebounds. He achieved his season-high 21 rebounds in the midst of this streak when Chicago defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 102-100. In fact, his 21 rebounds was more than his 17 points and outdid the 19 boards Pau Gasol grabbed in the contest. During those 18 games, Noah averaged 9.3 defensive rebounds and 4.6 offensive rebounds for a total of 13.9 rebounds.
For a second-straight season, Noah was selected as a reserve in the NBA All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference. He led all of the East bench players with 20:46, during which he scored eight points off of four-for-five shooting, pulled down five rebounds, dished out five assists and got a steal.
The game also featured some nice teamwork between Noah and LeBron James, as James assisted on two of Noah’s field goals. As much as Noah dislikes James, they surely made quite the duo.
Post All-Star Weekend
Noah really peaked as a playmaker in the latter half of the regular season. He still averaged a double-double, this time 13.8 points and 10. rebounds, but his 7.0 assists per game nearly made it so he averaged a triple-double.
Of the four triple-doubles Noah had this past regular season, three of them came after All-Star Weekend, and his first one of the season came just prior to that. Two of them also came within three days of each other.
With his playmaking skills, Noah was relied on even more than he had been before. Instead of just being a defensive anchor of this Bulls team, he also had to carry the team by running the offense. Interestingly enough, his minutes only increased to 37.3 minutes per game; however, he did have more 40-minute games during this time.
Noah’s passing wasn’t the only area that improved, though. He managed to increase his averages for steals and blocks to 1.5 and 1.7, respectively.
After scoring the third most total points for Chicago in the regular season, Noah’s 55 total points and 10.4 points per game ended up coming ahead of only Carlos Boozer, Nazr Mohammed and Tony Snell in the postseason.
His assists also took a hit by decreasing to just 4.6 assists her game, but it’s also likely that these numbers appear in such a way because of the Bulls’ overall offensive struggles. Also, it’s important to remember that Noah did have issues with his left knee during the playoffs, which then led to arthroscopic surgery once the season concluded.
Noah posted his fourth career triple-double during the Bulls’ defeat of the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 11. He led Chicago to a 100-85 victory with 19 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and three blocks. He shot 8-for-15 from the field and 3-for-6 on free throws.
Not only did Noah score more points than any individual on Atlanta, but he also grabbed more rebounds, dished out more assists and blocked more shots.
During the Bulls’ 99-70 loss t the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 3, Noah picked up two technical fouls leading to an automatic ejection. What made matters worse, however, is the aftermath that ensued. Both of Noah’s technicals came as a result of arguing call with officials. After being ejected in the third quarter, Noah’s anger overcame him, as he used profane language toward each of the three referees working that game.
The ejection then led to Noah only playing 18:51, during which he scored four points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out two assists, had one steal and went 1-for-6 on field goals. It also marked the end of his 18-game, double-digit rebounding streak.
A two-time NBA All-Star, a legitimate MVP candidate, a first team All-NBA selection and the Defensive Player of the Year. And aside from all of that, he also tied Stephen Curry for second with four triple-doubles and tied Zach Randolph with 47 double-doubles in the regular season.
Noah’s season was obviously a phenomenal one. Let’s just leave it at that.
Final Grade: A