Joakim Noah awed a national audience when the Chicago Bulls topped the Philadelphia 76ers this past Thursday by notching an unreal triple-double. In the contest, Noah had 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks, while shooting 8-12 from the field. He also added three steals just for good measure.
That incredible game against the Sixers for Noah came after a month where Noah actually hadn’t played that well. In fact, Noah’s season averages declined because of his numbers in February. Last month, he averaged just 9.3 points, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals and 10.9 rebounds per game and shot the ball at just 43.7 percent from the field.
Before February, Noah had averaged 12.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.1 blocks per game and had a field-goal percentage of 46 percent. That means that his statistical-output in February obviously dropped off from the way he had been playing all season.
It’s not a coincidence that, before the Philadelphia game, that the Bulls had a rough February as a team as well. They entered the month at 28-17 and proceeded to go 4-8 over their first 12 games in February. They also dropped to the lower-half of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Playoff standings.
As the postseason nears and the Bulls continue to play without Derrick Rose, the Bulls can’t afford to keep slipping in the standings. Subsequently, Noah has to continue to play at the level that earned him a bid to the All-Star Game and not the player who showed up in February. He doesn’t have to put up a triple-double every game, but he does have to play well for Chicago to succeed.