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Joakim Noah: Is He Actually Regressing Rather Than Improving?

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls runs out to the court from the locker room to play against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Heat won 83-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
H HContributor IIIJanuary 11, 2012

Is it possible for a player in his fifth season to have already peaked?

Since his entrance into the NBA in 2007, Joakim Noah has had roller coaster career to say the least.

With his starting role as center on a championship-caliber team, Joakim Noah has digressed rather than improved compared to his last two seasons.

Has he already reached his full potential?

The 2009-10 season proved to be one of Noah’s most impressive of his five-year career.

It was a season in which he averaged a double-double with 10.7 points and 11 rebounds per game.

It was also a season in which he played 30.1 minutes per game and averaged 8.1 field goal attempts.

Skip to the 2010-11 season, Noah’s other most impressive season.

His minutes went up to 32.8 per game, and although his rebounds decreased by 0.6 to 10.4, his points increased to 11.7 with an average of 8.4 field goal attempts.

His field goal percentage also increased from 50.4 to 52.5.

In both seasons, he brought intensity and protected the rim on defense (1.6 blocks per game in 2009-10, 1.5 in 2010-11).

Although he was not an offensive powerhouse, Noah was a great role player and played well within the Chicago Bulls' system.

Flash to the current season and it becomes apparent that Joakim Noah is not what he used to be.

Noah is currently averaging a measly 7.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

His field goal percentage has plummeted to 39.7 and he’s averaging half a block less per game than last season.

Why have Noah’s statistics decreased so much?

Is he losing his intensity that once defined his game?

Have his teammates and coaches lost faith in him?

Is it because Noah’s minutes have dropped to only 26.5 per game and his teammates are not giving him the ball as much on offense (only 6.2 field goal attempts per game).

Even Noah’s assist totals are down from from 2.2 last year to 1.7 this year.

Do the Bulls not need Noah like they used to?

Do the Bulls think Omar Asik is the future for their center position?

They have increased Asik’s minutes from 12.1 per game last season to 17.8 this season and his field goal attempts have gone up from 1.7 to 3.2.

Only the future will tell if the Bulls are really in the process of replacing their starting center.

But, it is apparent that Noah has digressed.

Maybe it’s just a slump, or maybe Noah has peaked and will never be the player he once was.

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