Bulls beat writer K.C Johnson sat down this week with Bulls center Joakim Noah to discuss his resurgence.
And what a resurgence it has been. In the last seven games, Joakim Noah has averaged 12.4 points per game, 12.1 rebounds per game and 3.6 assists per game on 62.5% shooting. He has six double doubles in those seven games, and was two points away from having a third double double in a blowout win over Cleveland. Jo has also played over 30 minutes in all but one of those games, and that shows an increased trust in Jo by Coach Thibodeau, who had opted to bench Noah early in the season in the fourth. Noah has played more 30+ minute games in the last six than in the whole rest of the season combined.
This is compared to Jo averaging 40% shooting, 6.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for his first 15 games of the season. Clearly after the loss at Memphis, Joakim stopped worrying so much about the money he’s getting paid and decided to play his game. Joakim was quoted as sayin
“Yeah, no question, I thought about that,” Noah said. “Sometimes you feel like because you’re given so much money you’re expected to do things. That’s not the right mentality to have as a player.”
We saw the same thing happen with Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni after they signed new contracts with the team. All three players started to try and be “worth” their contract, and it hurt all of their games. We have seen with Luol Deng that once he stopped worrying about playing up to his contract, he returned to being a highly effective basketball player.
If Joakim Noah can keep up his high level of play, he could receive All Star consideration with the weak center position in the Eastern Conference.