Chicago Bulls Offseason: How Joakim Noah Can Take the Bulls to the Next Level
This is the second in a series of articles regarding the development of the current cast of characters and how they can help aid in the Chicago Bulls' transition from pretender to contender.
Joakim is a 6'11", 232-pound monster in the middle. He is held in high regard by the Bulls' organization, mainly due to his defensive efforts. His long frame and court awareness helped him average a double-double, with 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, a steal, and a block and a half in 32.8 minutes per game last season. However, his season was cut short due to some nagging injuries and surgery on his thumb.
Despite only playing in 48 games, Noah put up some impressive per-36-minute stats. Although his scoring and rebounding numbers don't look much different (12.8 points and 11.4 rebounds), what is notable is the fact that he showcases 4.2 offensive rebounds in those 36 minutes.
A very impressive stat indeed, considering very few of the elite centers in the game average those kinds of numbers. Dwight Howard only averages 3.8 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes.
Noah's offensive rebounding prowess also happens to be a major determining factor in his scoring ability. The better he can attack the offensive glass, the more putbacks he gets, resulting in more points.
How He Can Take the Bulls to the Next Level
The first thing Noah can do to cement the Bulls' contending status is to be more assertive on offense. He has shown, at times, that he can be dominant on offense.
Take a look back at the Bulls' first round of the playoffs last season, Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers. Noah managed 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, seven offensive rebounds, and seven defensive rebounds in just 33 minutes of action.
The biggest reason he was so effective was that Derrick Rose was injured, and Boozer was in foul trouble. By attacking the rim aggressively early on in the game, he was able to coax his defenders in the air as he drove the lanes, allowing him to draw plenty of fouls. Imagine what he could do to defenses if he could work effectively in the post, or if he could shoot a jumper with consistency.
Although it's not his primary responsibility, there is no reason why he shouldn't refine the offensive aspect of his game further. By developing a post roll, or improving his 13-foot jumper, he would draw at least one more eye on offense. The more eyes on other players, the more driving lanes that open for Derrick Rose.
Also, Noah needs to remain healthy. He contributes a lot to the team already, but he has struggled with the injury bug for the last couple seasons. Like I mentioned in my previous article, this could be helped by establishing a regimented conditioning program, something Noah has been suspected of lacking in the past.
Staying healthy and practicing those low post moves would increase his scoring numbers by at least another basket a night, and I would not be surprised if he is able to manage another double-double this upcoming season, scoring about 13 to 15 points a night to go along with 10 rebounds.
But, as always, these are only my opinions. I could be wrong.
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