Joakim Noah or Greg Oden? Who's better?


Nov 10

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So if you had to pick the 2007 draft today, would you take Joakim Noah instead of Greg Oden?

Admit it, you had to think about it.

You didn’t two years ago. It would have been a joke. It’s no laughing matter anymore.

That came to mind Tuesday as the NBA released its All Star ballot with five Bulls—Kirk Hinrich, Derrick Rose, John Salmons, Luol Deng and Brad Miller–listed. Yes, Brad Miller as one of 12 Eastern Conference centers.

It suggests the selection committee paid little attention to the Bulls as we all knew that Noah would be the starting center this season.

But it would not be difficult, with Rose coming into the season slowly with injuries, to make the case that Noah has been the best, if not most consistent, player on the team this season.

“We have no control over who’s on the ballot,” said Bulls general manager Gar Forman. “But we know Jo is playing well enough to be considered and will be on many ballots for years to come.”

Coming off his career game of 21 points and 16 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Charlotte, Noah was averaging coming into Tuesday’s game with Denver 11.3 points and 11 rebounds and leading the team in rebounds, blocks and shooting, as well as primal screams, put backs and general energy.

Many who saw Noah in the playoffs against Boston could see this coming, but Noah made the commitment to be in shape and serious about the game after a difficult adjustment from the U. of Florida.

Noah, admittedly, wasn’t in condition. He had injuries, but also a questionable, condescending attitude. Some NBA officials today still remain furious with him for his arrogant behavior at the draft. He got into well publicized issues with teammates, namely Ben Wallace. And no matter what you think about Wallace, he knew about winning and had experienced it a lot more than Noah. Hearing an out of shape Noah tell teammates they didn’t work hard enough or care enough about winning was an incredible insult.

But to Noah’s credit he heard the cacophony of voices suggesting he was messing up a good thing.

He got in shape, worked on his game, and didn’t misplace his passion.

He’s been terrific, and now when you look at that 2007 draft, you have to wonder.

Last spring after the playoffs, I took another look at that draft and thought Noah might have been the fifth or sixth best player.

Now, you could even make the case he’ll be more valuable than Oden.

I talked to several NBA personnel guys Tuesday and all said they’d still go with Oden given he is improving and has missed so much time. But all didn’t answer so quickly. The fear—or belief—as it was then that Oden could become the next Bill Russell. I think we are done with that possibility, and as one personnel guy said Noah struck him as the kind of guy you’d want in the foxhole with you if you went to sleep. Oden? He might be sleeping as well.

It was an overstatement, of course, but showed the developing feeling of Noah’s increasing worth.

Noah won’t be an All Star this season because you just don’t get voted in as a write in. But he is the major oversight on the ballot and likely the last time he’ll be omitted.

So how’s that 2007 draft look on production and not potential if done today? Like this?

1. Kevin Durant
2. Al Horford
3. Joakim Noah
4. Greg Oden
5. Aaron Brooks
6. Marc Gasol
7. Carl Landry
8. Rodney Stuckey
9. Jeff Green
10. Thaddeus Young

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