The former Defensive Player of the Year, screaming heart of the Bulls is not what he once was, at least to this point of the season. Defensively, Joakim Noah is slow to move his feet, his rotations are late and the ability to contest shots at the rim has been zapped out of him like a Monstar. Offensively, he has zero lift, unable to perform the simplest of post moves.
No one can question the heart of Noah, and that he’ll do anything to be on the court to help his teammates capture a win. And this isn’t by any means an attempt to excessively criticize Noah, or question his effort whatsoever, we know he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got. However, maybe the best thing Noah can do to help his teammates win right now, is to shut it down for a while, and strengthen his recovering knee.
Noah has continued to rehab the knee throughout this season, and maintain that he’s healthy enough to continue playing. But his performance on the court, especially of late doesn’t warrant such truth. It’s become quite apparent that Noah is still dealing with the issues pertaining to his knee, and it’s not only affecting his play, but the Bulls as a whole.
His stats across the board are down from years past, and has been roughly ineffective on both ends of the floor. Noah’s plus/minus so far this year is 0.9, down from 2.9 last season. His PER, a meager 14.9 (league average is 15), which is down from 20 last season. Noah’s stats tell half of it, and watching his performance on a nightly basis tells the other.
Two such plays from Monday’s disappointing loss to the Orlando Magic, sum up Noah’s struggles this season.
The first: http://on.nba.com/1ssQvL5 (click video 2)
Noah attempts to drive past Magic big man Channing Frye, who is not known for his defensive prowess. Unable to get by Frye, Noah attempts a baby hook which is smothered by the former, who remained flat-footed.
The second: http://on.nba.com/1A9TxRU (click video 6)
Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who I’m almost positive is a small freight train, steam rolls right through Noah for the layup. When was the last time you saw that happen? A remotely healthy Noah, would’ve been able to hold his ground and contest, or even block the attempt by Dipo.
Plays like above haven’t happened tonight only, it’s been a reoccurring theme throughout this season. There was thought that maybe Noah would get stronger as the season progressed, much like last, but that hasn’t been the case up until now. Noah’s struggles on the court continue, game by game, and become more visible with each loss.
The spectacle of watching Noah attempt to run up and down the court on a nightly basis has become extremely difficult. Chicago’s hopes of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in June are very much alive, but they cannot do so without a healthy Joakim Noah. We are just barely at the halfway point of the season, with All Star break still a month away. For Noah to be playing with a knee the way it is, at this current juncture, is unnecessary.
Shutting Noah down at least until after the All Star break, to strengthen his ailing knee is needed. It’s going to hurt the Bulls depth wise, but Pau Gasol’s resurgence this season, and rookie Nikola Mirotic’s growth throughout, as well as Taj Gibson should hold down the fort in the meantime. Right now, head coach Tom Thibodeau, management and Noah, have think about the long haul. For Joakim Noah, it’s time to put pride aside, and focus on his health and the betterment of the Chicago Bulls.
Twitter – Tyler_Pleiss