This past season was the year Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah truly proved he was one of the best centers in the league. In carrying a depleted Chicago Bulls team into and through a round of the postseason, despite suffering from his own injuries, Noah made a case for the best Center in basketball all of last year (assuming we’re counting Tim Duncan as a Power Forward).
Noah is by no means your traditional big man. He does not have much of a back to the basket game, and his play style is by no means pretty (especially his jump shot). His 12-point, 11-rebound and two-block averages look nice, but they’re nothing special. So what makes Joakim Noah one of the top centers in the NBA?
Well for one, his passion and intensity. No one plays the game of basketball harder than Joakim Noah. He hustles for loose balls, dives all over the court, and simply overwhelms the opponent with his energy and effort. These types of things, the things that don’t show up in the stat sheet, are what make Noah so good.
Second, Noah is a beast defensively. He is good at everything: low post defense, protecting the rim, defending the pick and roll, boxing out and rebounding, everything. He is the anchor for Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls defense that is always one of the best in the league. For all these reasons Noah made All Defensive first team. Take away Joakim Noah from the Bulls and they lose their identity and defensive leader.
So what can we expect from Noah this season? Well, similar statistics of double-digit points, rebounds, and around two blocks. But if we’ve learned anything over the years of watching Noah, it is that he cannot be measured by statistical output. He will be one of, if not the most important player for the Bulls this season (yes, maybe even more important than Derrick Rose). The Bulls are poised to contend in the East this season and Joakim Noah may be the biggest reason why.