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Saturday, October 5th, 2013 at 3:00 pm  |  49 responses

Top 50: Joakim Noah, no. 26

Hustle and heart make Noah a top center in ’13-14.

by Dr. L.A. Gabay

Joakim Noah plays different, looks different and his personal narrative is unique for an NBA player. He’s the kind of guy you want to hate unless he’s on your team. Then he’s your hero. You can’t teach height and you can’t fake passion. Noah has both. The way he runs, shoots and takes each play personally is enigmatic.

Since leading Florida in back-to-back NCAA Championships, the ninth pick in the 2007 Draft has proven the haters wrong and Malcolm Gladwell right: Whatever Noah may lack in talent, he more than compensates for in bountiful energy and relentlessness.

Coming off his first All-Star year (averaging 12 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.1 blocks—even laboring two triple-doubles), Noah has become the first Chicago Bulls center to achieve such a feat since Artis Gilmore in 1977. The All-Defensive First-Team selection rarely spends time on the bench, averaging almost 37 minutes a game last season, and when he does, it seems as if he’s still in the game. Equally animated on and off court, he doesn’t distinguish between playing on his team and supporting them. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s macro approach to the ’13-14 campaign is to be vigilantly mindful when pacing Noah, closely monitoring his minutes to have him fresh for May and June.

Picture last spring. Round 1, Game 7. Against the Nets with half the Bulls roster down, and Noah essentially running on one wheel (due to plantar fasciitis), he elevated his team and star status by dropping 24 and grabbing 14 boards. Living up to his team name in round 2, he chased the Heat up and down the court and sent them scrambling like scared tourists in Pamplona. He averaged almost a double-double throughout the loudly contested five-game series.

Noah’s version of Bulls have held together for a while, and this is really their year to live up to the hype. With his best friend and League MVP Derrick Rose back, the other teams will once again trap and try to get the ball out of Rose’s hands. This gives Noah, the emerging Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and the deep Bulls’ roster plenty of space—and opportunities—to thrive. Chicago is experienced and healthy enough to legitimately challenge the Heat while still being young and tough enough to slow down the formidable Pacers.

During the offseason, Noah worked out in his typical “Noah” manner—yoga with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and training with professional surfer Laird Hamilton. Those workouts with Hamilton include under-water jumps with 50-pound dumb bells. Noah claims they were “explosive” underwater jumps and further elaborates, “The more you train, the less you party.”

It should be noted that Noah has, arguably, the ugliest looking shot in the NBA. When he releases the ball it looks like he’s shoving a beach ball toward the stage at a Phish concert. But, like every other weird part of Jo No’s game, it’s his and it works.

Where should Joakim Noah rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10
40 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
39 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 9
38 Kevin Garnett Nets PF 8
37 Rudy Gay Raptors SF 8
36 Paul Pierce Nets SF 7
35 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 11
34 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 7
33 Al Horford Hawks C 8
32 Andre Iguodala Warriors SF 6
31 Brook Lopez Nets C 7
30 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 6
29 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 6
28 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 10
27 Josh Smith Hawks SF 5
26 Joakim Noah Bulls C 5

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    2012 – NR …….. Smh

  • spit hot fiyah

    this would have been nice if it was a short article for the magazine. does nothing to convince us that this ranking is the right one for him though.

  • spit hot fiyah

    slam be like:

  • spit hot fiyah

    “Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s macro approach to the
    ’13-14 campaign is to be vigilantly mindful when pacing Noah, closely
    monitoring his minutes to have him fresh for May and June.”

    i will believe that when i see it

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    2 wrongs making a right I guess. Perhaps 38 would have been more accurate.

  • shockexchange

    That dog put the Bulls on his back and helped lead them to a surprising playoff performance sans Derrick Rose. Noah’s a “hunting dog” and the ranking reflects that.

  • Hum

    FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 3Chainz

    When Noahs healthy I can’t think of FOUR better centers… Howard, Duncan, maybe Gasol and?… Please don’t say Hibbert…

  • Caboose

    Horford. Horford is better.

  • Caboose

    Noah. Put the Bulls on his back. Mmm, no.

  • shockexchange

    He was one of a few guys who put the Bulls on his back. They surprised the L with their playoff run, that is until they ran into the Heat. The Bulls’ playoff performance, with Noah as one of the leaders, is reflected in the ranking.

  • wooj

    huhhoo

  • MUBWAR

    hey did u get my email

  • King David

    Brook Lopez, Chris Kamaan ?

  • Caboose

    Yeah man, I sent you an invite

  • MUBWAR

    didn’t get it. try this 1 moubarikw@outlook.com

  • Caboose

    Sent!

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Megatron

    yo man, can i join the fantasy league you guys got set up if you aren’t full yet ? i played last year in our league but i got autodrafted (lame) so didnt stick with it, will this year fosho though

  • Caboose

    Yeah man, just send me an email at alexhbennett@berkeley.edu

  • Zabbah

    i was thinking the same thing. wtf slam.

  • Nick Holden

    I sent you an e-mail. Haven’t heard anything back. Still looking for participants?

  • Caboose

    Sorry man, haven’t gotten it. You can try again or just post your email here.

  • 3Chainz

    Lopez got his ass busted by Noah in the playoffs, while Noah was working on one foot. Lopez had good offensive games but that last game when Noah will the Bulls to the second rd showed a lot…

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  • Evan Boland

    Kaman. LMAO.

  • Evan Boland

    I don’t know man.

  • Evan Boland

    Yes, he did.

  • Caboose

    Go ahead and defend that.

  • Caboose

    Really? Come on, man.

  • Nick Holden
  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Megatron

    done man

  • BugEyes

    Love his fire

  • King David

    them Florida championships lol

  • Interdico Scriptor

    Eat a ****, Noah kills those guys

  • King David

    u eat a d*ck

  • 3Chainz

    no David, u eat the d*ck… okay?!

  • LakeShow

    Joakim Noah brings more to a team that Al Horford does.

    First let’s speak statistically. Horford wins the statistics margin by a hair.

    Projected 2013-2014 stats:
    Horford:18-9-3 on 53% fg’s and a steal and a block.
    Noah: 12-11-3.5 on 51%fg’s and a steal and 2 blocks.

    Do those projected stats look realistic to you?

    For me they are, so I will continue on explaining…

    So statistically Horford may edge out Noah by a smidgen. But the beauty of Noah’s game, as we all know, is not in the statistics.

    Noah brings more heart and energy to the game than possibly anyone else playing today. At moments reminiscent of Rodman. And at 6’11″ and 240lbs he can really change the game in allot of ways with his athleticism and defense. Even more-so than Horford. Noah’s ability to guard any position effectively for short bursts is matched by only a few in the L.(maybe) These intangibles are not measured statistically, but Noah giving his team support throughout the game lifts the whole squad to new heights.

    Noah also scores without having plays ran for him and is crucial to the Bulls championship aspirations. Horford will never be the #1 option on a contender. But he is playing a #1 man. His stats will look better, but Noah will be doing more important things for a more important basketball club in 2013-2014.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    and then you do the whole, “switch their teams thing” and Noah makes Atlanta considerably worse….while Chicago, if they get worse at all, it would be marginal.
    .
    but hey, if team = ability, sure.

  • LakeShow

    I don’t think the Hawks would be worse.

    That line of thinking is difficult in this context though.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    how do you figure? Al Horford has the entire offense run through him. you run a whole offense through Joakim Noah and your team is going to be the Bobcats.

    .

    and it’s not like i’m low on Joakim Noah. Go look at last years top 50, i had him at 22! i’m not bashing the guy, i just actually watch him, and Horford. it was clear who was better last season after Christmas. Just had to watch.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/horfoal01/gamelog/2013/#342-391-sum:pgl_basic

  • LakeShow

    Why would you run a team through Noah. lol.

    Yeah Horford had a better statistical year…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    He was a better player. By every single measure.

  • LakeShow

    True.

    Some things are truly immeasurable.

  • 3Chainz

    Like common sense….

  • King David

    your a fagbag ok?

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