Quantcast
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 at 11:49 am  |  85 responses

Top 50: Joakim Noah, no. 39

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Yaron Weitzman / @YaronWeitzman

Joakim Noah’s teams have always exceeded expectations. The 2006 and 2007 champion Florida Gators. The 2009 Bulls that took the defending champion Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round of the Playoffs. Last year’s Bulls team that shocked everyone by winning 62 games, and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Even international teams have reaped the benefits of having basketball’s Fabio on their side, with France, after having Noah join its national team this offseason, winning enough games to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2000. Over this time period a pattern has developed.

The question is how and why?

Why do Noah’s teams constantly get overlooked? Why are Noah’s teams always getting to points that no one thought they could?

The obvious answers here would include every basketball cliché. Noah is a hustler and a great role player. He brings intangibles to his teams that don’t get counted in box scores, and therefore, don’t get factored into projections. He’s a great defender, and defense wins Championships.

Each of these statements is true, and they all represent examples of what Noah is able to contribute to his teams. But they also just tap into the surface of Noah as a basketball player, and stopping at them would ignore the many unique and elite abilities that the Bulls center has.

Noah is not a great scorer. With a scoring average of 11.7 ppg, the second lowest ppg average of anyone this list—trailing only Rajon Rondo—you could say that he’s not even a good scorer. (Although I will remind you that in the 24 games he played last season before undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb, Noah was averaging 14 ppg.) But the list of things on a court that Noah doesn’t do well ends at scoring, and his deficiency in this area does not prevent him from making the Bulls a better offensive team.

How?

For starters, Noah is one of the best passing big men in the League, and does an excellent job of catching and distributing the ball from the high post and paint. This is an extremely dangerous weapon that can open up all sorts of possibilities for an offense, and is a skill that most big men don’t posses. Duncan, the Gasols, Dirk; I’m sure I’m forgetting a few names, but this list, which includes Noah, is certainly not a long one.

The other way Noah helps his team on offense is by rebounding. A lot. Not only does this give his team additional possessions, but it also forces opponents to alter their defensive schemes. And what Noah has, which almost every other great offensive rebounder doesn’t have, is the athleticism and speed to get back on defense after crashing the offensive glass. Teams are almost never good at both offense and defensive rebounding. Noah allows the Bulls to excel in both, and is one of the only players in the NBA who could have this effect.

The same thing can be said for what Noah’s does on the defensive end, where he plays the Kevin Garnett role in Tom Thibodeau defense. Like a younger Garnett, the 6-11 center has the quickness to switch on to guards, the athleticism to hedge and recover on picks, and the height and shot blocking ability to alter shots in the paint.

Proficiency in these areas is usually explained through words like “hustle” and “determination,” and with phrases like “Noah just wanted it more.” But just because a player is not a scorer, doesn’t mean everything he does can be chalked up to “hustle.” Just because a player helps a team in areas other than scoring doesn’t make that player a “role player.” Noah is not a “role player.” The things that he does—elite defense, rebounding, passing, the ability to help an offense without the ball—are influential skills that should be lauded.

The sooner we start recognizing these skills, the sooner we’ll stop being shocked by what Noah’s teams do on the court.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , , ,

  • The Yellow Mamba

    First!

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    At least he’s ahead of Lopez. I still don’t think the centers picked so far are better than Bogut.

  • tomtom

    I’d take Noah over Bogut any day. But not over a healthy Bynum.

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    Good write up. Very well explained.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    This is really good, I got no gripes with this one.

  • chingy

    Not better than Bogut.

  • showtime

    So this mean Alford is the 2nd best center in the league?? But he a power foward playing out of position.

  • http://bleacherreport.com/articles/670447-dwight-howard-and-andrew-bogut-a-tale-of-two-2011-all-nba-defensive-centers nbk

    basically.

  • Red

    Only issue I have with this is that Noah is the best center in the L but then again he was injured so I kinda get it.

  • showtime

    @red was that a typo are you that dilluisonal to think with out injuries noah is the best center in the league??

  • Yann Blavec

    The thing is, the last time France qualified for the Olympics, Vinsanity flew over the french starting center. Only, this time I won’t have to wake up early to watch it, since I’m french, and the olympics are in London.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I love this cat. Y’all know I’m as high on Noah as Noah is high on..well, you know.
    I thought this write-up did a good job of why Noah’s so valuable.
    I’d also add he’s a pretty good shotblocker and an underrated ballhandler.
    It’s not unusual to see Noah, after a defensive rebound, lead a fast break.
    How many 6’11” cats can do that?
    I do have gripes with him though. The last two seasons he would’ve been an all-star had it not been for his injuries.
    You can’t really fault him for that though, I mean dude even played injured for about a month after messing up his thumb until the team made him get surgery.
    Other players (*cough* Carlos Boozer *cough*) woulda just taken a month or two off right after hurting the thumb.
    Of course he could be a better scorer. He may never be a great post scorer, but last year pre-injury he had some nice hook shots and a nice little ten-foot J (with that horrible jumpshot).
    But my other gripe with him, and this is nitpicking at this point, is I just wish dude was tougher.
    I mean, he’ll yell and scream after a big play and all that good stuff, but he lets himself, and his teammates, get punked and pushed around by other teams’ enforcers way too often.
    It probably will never happen cause you are who you are, but I’d love to see Noah develop a mean streak. I’d love to see him go after dudes after they deliver a hard foul to Rose.
    Get in their faces, push them, do something!
    I realize in today’s NBA that’ll get you a tech or even ejected, but F it, it would be worth it.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    And I’ll add, a healthy Bogut is better than all the centers listed so far.
    Can’t believe he was the first center on this list!!

  • http://bleacherreport.com/articles/670447-dwight-howard-and-andrew-bogut-a-tale-of-two-2011-all-nba-defensive-centers nbk

    cosign all of that ^

  • Double J

    tell’em how it is enig

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    Like I said on the other post, Bogut is the turd in the punch bowl.
    Slam must really expect him to decline this year, and everybody else to have good years.
    I don’t see it. Dude is going to be a lot healthier. Last year I was down on the Bucks because of his injury, this year I think they will improve a LOT because he will feel a lot better, and Jennings should be finally understanding what he needs to do to get buckets. And they got rid of Salmons, who could not co-exist on a team with Maggette.
    Basically, the Bucks sucked last year because their best player was hobbled, their second best player still doesn’t understand his role, and they had two bonafide gunners who play questionable defense.
    Now that’s all improved. I expect them to be 6th or 7th.

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    Actually they got rid of Magette and Salmons, a huge move, and replaced them with Stack Jack.
    They can theoretically start, Jennings, Stack Jack, Ersan, Luc, and Bogut.
    That has the potential to be an awesome defensive team. Or they can start Larry Sanders at the four and bring Ersan off the bench.
    Either way, they have four or five legit defenders on that team, and two of them can get buckets as well in Bogut and Jackson. They should move up to potentially the five spot with that lineup.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    ^
    Really like that starting 5, gonna start an association with them in 2k12 lol.

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    And they have Beno, and Delfino and possibly Redd off the bench. Not to mention Gooden.
    Quietly, they have a very competitive team right now if it all comes together correctly. Missing a training camp is going to hurt them though.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Yeah, well they were supposed to be the sh*t last season too, Allen.
    And they sucked.
    Sorry, that’s just the Bulls fan in me hating on a Central Division rival.
    Carry on…

  • Heals

    He’s a tough one, but this seems just right. Over the course of the year I think this ranking holds weight, but there are stretches where I’d swear he wasn’t good enough to even make the list…

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

    I LIKE NOAH, BUT LIKE RIGO, I WISH HE WERE TOUGHER. HE IS PLENTY OF SHOW OF TOUGH, BUT NOT MUCH SUBSTANCE. … AND ERSAN WENT BACK TO TURKEY, I THOUGHT.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Man, wish the Raptors had someone like him. Here’s to hoping Jonas Valanciunas can be that type.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Enigmatic well, they were injured and they improved alot by getting rid of “I don’t ever pass” and Salmons and getting Jack.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Bucks starting lineup will be jennings, delfino, jackson, Elyasova/A Moute, and Bogut. Delfino was real gOod last season before his neck injury, was puttin up like 18PPG if i’m not mistaken. They will make the playoffs barring injury, I guaranteed.

  • Irfan

    It’s fair to see Jooks ahead of Brook Lopez & Andrew Bynum. It’s unfair to see both Lopez & Bynum ahead of Ibaka, Chandler, Nene (if Horford is the 2nd center).
    I don’t know if Noah is better than Bogut & Marc gasol at the moment, I think he isn’t, but he’s made a lot of improvement (FT, screens… I’m French and I liked what he did in these two compartiments in the Eurobasket) and he’s certainly one of the toughest centers behind Dwight (maybe Nene & Ibaka too) now. He struggles a lot offensively though.
    His spot in the ranking seems quite good to me. But the spot of other centers isn’t.

  • Red

    Of course If I consider d Howard than Noah is 2nd. But yes a healthy Noah is #2 Bogut has been injured & his injury has caused an issue to his elbow plus he came in the NBA in 2005 & just recently in 2009 has broken out but he hasn’t yet had a consistent year.

    Noah is the 2nd best center in the league.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Red, you’re not making any sense.
    You say Noah deserves to be ranked the second best center over Bogut, because Bogut has been injured too much?
    You do realize Noah has been battling injuries as well, right?

  • Red

    Yeah, I do thanks kid but Noah hasn’t had a season ending injury or an injury that’s permanent also because Bogut hasn’t been able to consistently perform so read everything before you comment.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Bogut just led the league in blocks, played in 17 more games then Noah. Averaged more rebounds, the same amount of assits and more points. Red you need to know what your talking about before you comment

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Well damn, way to get defensive, there.
    Noah also has consistency issues. I’m a die hard Bulls fan. Ask any regular on here, they’ll tell you.
    And despite my die-hard fanaticism dating back to before the Bulls ever won a title, it’s still unfathomable to me that anyone thinks Joakim Noah is the second best center in the NBA right now.
    He certainly could be.
    But despite Bogut’s injuries he has still performed either at the same or higher level both defensively, and definitely offensively than Noah has….
    ”kid”.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Assists*. Sorry don’t want you tofocus on something irrelevant to go with all that fiction

  • http://sajkflf.com Jukai

    I think Bogut and Bynum got the bum end of things because of their constant injuries. It’s all about general impact— Bogut and Bynum will impact the game a LOT when playing, but they may not be playing and it’s hard to look at them and not factor in injuries.
    Noah, while he did suffer some injuries, isn’t really “injury prone.” They were more freak injuries than anything.
    The Brook Lopez thing is still giggly though. 82 games of Lopez does not bring the impact that 60 games of Bynum and Bogut brings.

  • Htay

    No love for monta/steph in this list im guessing

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    @Htay – how you figure? We’re only at #38.
    Monta will be on this list.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Steph Curry should be on this list also.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    He will

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I don’t know if i’d put Wall above or below Curry this next year.. hmm

  • Armando

    This list is weird. OK, I understand it’s projected 11-12 performance. I prefer performance to production as stats indeed lie. Nevertheless I “project” Bogut (way to low here) to “produce” 16-11-3-3 to Lopez’ 21-8(he has to do better than this years 6)-2-2, and I think the Bucks will do better than the Nets. Not taking potential/age into consideration I’d say Bogut’s the second best true center in the league (but behind Horford as long as he’s logging most of his minutes at the 5, and before Noah, Bynum and Gasol in that order). Also: Boozer ahead of all these guys?!… someone’s smoking something or blowing someone.

  • http://www.danchamb.com.br Lz – Cphfinest3

    Best write-up so far. By a landslide. All the write-ups should be done along these lines explaining the players pro’s and con’s instead of giving some half-azsed anecdote about the players hardship or the like… I think this is about right for Noah, but yes Bogut should be ranked higher as many have already said. Also, Wall will most def be ranked above Curry. And should, I personally believe Wall will blow up this year. Like really blow up.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Steph hasn’t “blown-up” yet either. If Monta gets traded he will have a huuuuuuge year

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Thats unfortunate for Wall. I can’t believe he is going to blow up. He had so much potential but even the greats spontaneously explode sometimes.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Here’s how my list looks. I put Wall pretty high…

    1 LeBron
    2 Dwight
    3 Wade
    4 Rose
    5 Kobe
    6 Durant
    7 Paul
    8 Melo
    9 Deron
    10 Dirk
    11 Westbrook
    12 Monta
    13 Wall
    14 Stoudemire
    15 Griffin
    16 Gasol
    17 Aldridge
    18 Rondo
    19 Randolph
    20 Love
    21 Gordon
    22 Curry
    23 Tyreke
    24 Nash
    25 Manu
    26 Joe
    27 Rudy
    28 Bosh
    29 Pierce
    30 Jefferson
    31 Garnett
    32 Scola
    33 Josh
    34 Granger
    35 Tony
    36 Lee
    37 Felton

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I havent put my own list together yet, I’d argue against a few of those but I respect that list.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Thanks nbk. Out of curiosity, any egregious ones you’d change right away?

  • CeeLowe

    I do love Joakim Noah, but I feel that he’s the third best true center behind Bogut. I don’t consider Horford a true center.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    And I just realize that I left Horford off the list. Oops…drop David Lee, insert Horford in between Pierce and Bosh.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    And I just realize that I left Horford off the list. Oops…drop David Lee, insert Horford in between Pierce and Bosh.

  • Spades

    Curry is half the passer Wall is. Curry’s got a J but he’s too much of a gunner to usurp Wall. Right now I think it’s Rose, Paul, Williams, Rondo, Westbrook, Wall then Curry. Wall has the knack for passing that Paul does and he’s got Rose/Westbrook athleticism. If he ever gets any weapons on his team, he’ll be an easy 20-10 every year.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I’d have Rose down at 7. Behind LBJ, Wade, Howard, Bryant, Paul, Durant. Although him and Durant would kinda be interchangeable IMO. With DWill at 8 (I heard his wrist(s) is slow to heal). Monta Ellis might not even be in my top 20. John Wall would be lower, same with Tyreke. And I personally don’t like Al Jefferson as a player at all. I don’t feel like he contributes to winning. And idk if Ray Felton would make my top 40. I gotta do a list

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    Love Noah – not better than Bogut.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Fair enough nbk. I only put Felton in based on how many point guards are remaining on Slam’s list. My list is like a fusion of what I think is right and what I expect Slam’s list to be. I could probably take Al off, move everyone up a level, and add David Lee down at the bottom. Why is Ellis so low for you?

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    He stops the flow of an offense. Is an overrated defender (idk why people think he’s good, decent is a stretch), but I also think a team can win with him, if its chalk full of defenders who can shoot. Not a championship, but you know what I mean. I would have him right around 20. (and he needs to get traded for iguodala and if it has to happen louis williams soon. I think it would benefit everyone)

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Ok, I can go with that. I think under a coach who knows best to use him (not just let him go and go and go) he’d be more dangerous. A trade for Iguodala and Lou would be a great move, I agree. I also think Ellis and Charlie Bell for JRich, Bass, Daniel Orton, and a 1st round pick would help both sides too.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    It would I agree, i just don’t think the new owners/management in GState is down to take any steps back. Even if it ultimately makes them better. (is Jrich a FA now? I think his contract may have expired)

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Oh he is, my bad. Shoulda caught that one. But yeah, pair Ellis with a defensive big guy and he’ll thrive. I think Golden State is moving in the right direction, just need some talented veterans and Orlando (as always) just needs a go to scorer in the mold of Ellis, Eric Gordon, or even Kevin Martin.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Watch for some sort of amnesty provision or rule that encourages teams to purge big contracts. Those guys will get bought out and become cheap free agents.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that at all. But then there’d have to be a new free agent system in place so that teams don’t end up overpaying for the freshly bought out FA’s.

  • blakos

    Red you just got owned. Stop commentating please. NBK i like the Iggy for Curry Trade. Gives some much needed D to Golden State and frees the reigns for Steph Curry.

  • blakos

    *Commenting

  • Red

    Ok, but like I said Noah hasn’t had a season ending injury & one that’s permanent. Bogut came in in 05 and Noah came in in 07 and has already proven to be affective. I’d take Noah over a Bogut with a permanent injury & he just started playing well in 09 & hasn’t consistently proven his worth Noah started helping his 2/3 year in the L kid.

    And are you sure your a big fan? Cause Noah ain’t no Boozer he’s actually a great Center so me as a Real bulls fan am putting up for my center unlike you.

    Call me crazy but I think Omer Asik would be better than Bogut if he was on the Bucks. Lmao @ blakos you’re a loser looool “stop commenting please”.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    smh

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Someone’s questioning my love for the Bulls?
    Word?
    Check my link, kid. Click on my name. Look me up. Search the archives for “Enigmatic” and tell me I’m not a Bulls fan.
    But what I am ALSO is a realist.
    I love Noah, check my first comment on here for f*cks sake.
    But I refuse to be that guy who thinks his teams’ players are the best and can do no wrong.
    My loyalty is to the hometown team first and foremost, not the players (call me the anti-AllenP in that regard)

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Matter of fact, Red, I’ma just call you Bull22jr. from now on…

  • Red

    So you’ll derail our Center who is an All-Star caliber to compliment a injury ridden Center who hasn’t performed consistently? Ok you’re a real “fan”.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    You dont have to become stupid to be considered a real fan. And what your saying is stupid

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    WTF SLAM… Boozer is over Noah!!

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Red is pretty funny doubting Enig’s love for the Bulls lol..

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Bull22jr*

  • RetrOhh

    Im on here like everyday yo but don’t really comment alot
    But Enig. not a true bulls fan ? GTFOH
    & Reds argument is weak
    only thing Noah has on Bogut is hustle & heart , thats it
    dude trippin .. smh

  • Red

    I’m stupid? Yet nobody has given a single concrete rebuttal to prove I’m wrong. & k @ Max, when you 2 getting married again?

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I proved you were wrong. Read the comments.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    November 21st this year….

  • Red

    No you didn’t u just dumb by not addressing the core of my argument dummy.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    ^ LOL. Beat me some more please!!! Really dude give it up. You have a quote that says “Call me crazy but I think Omer Asik would be better than Bogut if he was on the Bucks.” Your not an intelligent person. Your basically saying the equivelent of “i’d take Kyrie Irving over Chris Paul” No one even needs to lay down facts. It’s just so stupid that we are all trying to walk away.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    READ:

    Red Posted: Sep.28 at 2:34 am
    So you’ll derail our Center who is an All-Star caliber to compliment a injury ridden Center who hasn’t performed consistently? Ok you’re a real “fan”.

    —————————————————-

    nbk Posted: Sep.27 at 4:19 pm
    Bogut just led the league in blocks, played in 17 more games then Noah. Averaged more rebounds, the same amount of assits and more points. Red you need to know what your talking about before you comment

  • Red

    But u didn’t address me saying bogut had a season ending injury & one that’s permanent neither? LOL ok

  • Red

    LOL I said “call me crazy” that’s exactly the point it’s an irrational thought but one that can’t be proven wrong since Asik ain’t a starter. LOL you got so excited “I GOT HIM! :O”

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Bogut’s injury was 2 years ago, those stats are from last season. Your point is irrelevant.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Saying Asik would put the second best defensive stats in the nba is so stupid even this is better treatment then it deserves. Forget about actually showing you why its stupid. Plus, he played a decent amount with JOAKIM hurt half the season.

  • Red

    It was a potential career ending injury & it’s still permanent. Your point is irrelevant LOL & actually Asik played behind Kurt Thomas(a solid center also), but he’s a rookie Center & if he got traded he’s a starting Center easily. You’ve made no solid point..not one so I’ll be ignoring your useless arguments.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    ^So what kind of numbers do you think Kurt Thomas could put up on the bucks?

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Kurt Thomas played for the Bucks in ’08-’09.

  • Yann Blavec

    He’s got his daddy’s teeth and voice.

  • dannyb

    This just shows how weak the C position is now in the post-Shaq era. The third best center in the league is only the 39th best player. Man how times have changed.

Advertisement