Joakim Noah's health is probably the biggest concern for Chicago in anticipating the upcoming NBA season. Without Noah, the team will undoubtedly struggle in its already short-staffed run at the postseason.
Last week, I made a confident claim that the bulls will make the 2013 Playoffs sans Derrick Rose. As long as Noah comes back to the court ready to go—as stipulated in my article—I will hold to this claim.
Noah may not be the star in Chicago, we'll leave that role to Rose, but he is a role player and a crucial guy to have beneath the basket. Prior to injuring his ankle in the playoffs, Noah posted averages of 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
He's especially agile for a big man, and losing him immediately after Rose was a huge blow to the Bulls. His aggressiveness and blocking ability is also invaluable, and it would be nearly impossible for Chicago to make this year's playoffs if Noah doesn't stay healthy.
According to Noah, the ankle is not yet 100 percent.
"My ankle is feeling a lot better," Noah said (via ESPN). "It's not 100 percent. I'm rehabbing it in NYC. It's one of the reasons that I'm not playing in the Olympics this year, to make sure it's 100 percent for the NBA season."
Some may wonder if Coach Tom Thibodeau allowing Noah to re-enter the game following the sprain could have prolonged the injury. According to Thibodeau, Noah had been cleared by medical personnel, but months later he is still trying to finish up recovery.
Regardless, Noah feels confident that he'll be ready to start the season. If the 27-year-old is accurate on his return time, Chicago fans can expect to see him ready to lead his Rose-less team toward the playoffs.
The one thing we don't want to see is Noah rushing the rehab period and returning to the court too soon. Playing the first couple weeks of the season with backup center Nazr Mohammed would not be ideal, but a re-injured ankle is a setback Noah and the Bulls would not find themselves recovering from.
Let's hope Noah's ready to go by October.