Joakim Noah has proved to be big building block for Bulls
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 1, 2013 1:04AM
Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets - Game Seven
Updated: June 1, 2013 1:12AM
Joakim Noah wears his emotions on his sleeve. They help cover up the battle scars and bruises that run all over his upper arms and shoulders from life as an NBA big man.
But when he sat at the podium after the Bulls’ season ended in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Heat last month in Miami, he was in a surprisingly upbeat mood. The Heat still might have the upper hand, but Noah thinks the balance of power might be shifting.
‘‘There’s a lot of positives,’’ Noah said when asked what thoughts he will take into the 2013-14 season. ‘‘We’re a young team that’s experienced a lot at a young age. One day, we’ll get our shot.’’
It’s not as crazy a thought as many on the outside might think. The formula for beating the Heat starts with
outsizing it. Then if the bigs are athletic enough to stay with Heat center/forward Chris Bosh on the outside and quick enough to cover the court and help out in the paint, that’s a huge plus.
The Bulls have a player like that in Noah. Even better news it that he has yet to reach his ceiling.
WHO’S COMING BACK
Derrick Rose is still the face of the Bulls, but Noah showed this season why he is their heart and soul. Playing on one good foot throughout the playoffs because of plantar fasciitis that affected him for most of the second half of the season, Noah averaged 10.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.3
assists and 2.2 blocks. And that was done mostly on will.
The hope going into the offseason is that Noah has a handle on how to deal with the injury and, if not, would be open to the idea of having surgery. Because when he’s healthy, Noah is an elite hybrid center, establishing himself as one of the better defensive big men and one of the better passers out of the high post.
His jumper is still a work in progress, but the offensive work he did last offseason with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar seemed to have some staying power.
Noah is signed through the 2015-16 season and will remain a key building block, along with Rose.
He is more of a power forward than a center, but he handled the five-spot well enough to allow coach Tom Thibodeau to go to a smaller lineup when needed.
This comes with a big maybe. Mohammed quickly became a Thibodeau favorite and wants to continue playing in his hometown. If the Bulls can get him in the one-year, $1 million range and don’t grab a center in the draft, the cagey veteran might not have to leave just yet.
WHO’S OUT THERE
The Bulls spoke with Jason Collins (right) last summer, and he still might be on their radar. But there are a few other capable backups that might get some attention.
Collins, Chris Andersen, Ronny Turiaf.
The Bulls want defensive-minded players who come from winning programs, so expect Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng to top their wish list if they go big.
Dieng, Steven Adams (Pittsburgh), Jeff Withey (Kansas).