Joakim Noah’s Game 3 Contributions
While most of Chicago is either buzzing about Derrick Rose’s performance in the second half and buzzer beating shot or Jimmy Butler’s outstanding defense on LeBron (holding LeBron to 4-13 shooting when he was closest defender, picking up 4 steals as well), there has been limited discussion about what Joakim Noah did for the Chicago Bulls last night.
What we see here is an outstandingly low DFG% (27.3), meaning, the average field goal percentage of opponents when Noah is the nearest defender. He was able to cause a 25.7% drop in the average percentage for the players he was playing defense on (Thompson, James, Mozgov, and occasional help defense on a driving Irving). From 10 feet out or less, the most frequent distance that opponents would shoot on him from, he held opponents to 25% shooting.
Obviously there is still work to be done for Joakim Noah’s game in this series, especially on the offensive front (he did go 2-2 at the FT line though). He still managed to miss a handful of layups and otherwise good looks (going 1-8 on the game), but the Bulls saw an aggressive Joakim Noah who wasn’t afraid to drive into the paint. The key here is limiting his shot selection and only taking quality shots.
Rebounding was definitely Noah’s strong suit in regards to stats measurable by just looking at the box score. He had 11 total rebounds (contributing to the Bulls beating the Cavs on the glass with 53 rebounds compared to Cleveland’s 39), and in addition managed to grab 6 offensive boards.
If Joakim Noah can come out with this level of effort on a consistent basis and be a bit wiser in shot selection, he can be a significant part of the Bulls success defeating Cleveland in this series. I was definitely one of the critics calling for Thibodeau to start Taj over him, but with a game like this and careful analysis of his defensive contributions, I’m not so sure that is the best idea. While Taj is a great defender as well, Joakim played defense at a truly elite level last night.