Noah’s workload continues upward ascent


Mar 25

By Adam Fluck

While several of Joakim Noah’s most valuable attributes—namely his contagious energy and enthusiasm—are immeasurable, there is also plenty of statistical evidence to illustrate his value to a Bulls team which is trying to play its way back into the postseason picture.

For starters, Noah has missed 18 games to date with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The Bulls are 6-12 without Noah on the floor.

Breaking it down even further reveals just how important the third-year big man is to the Bulls. Stats through games played as of March 22 show that with Noah in the lineup, opponents have averaged just shy of 98 points per game. When Noah is out, however, that number jumps to more than 104 points per game.

A similar disparity exists when considering opponents’ field goal percentage—43.7 percent with Noah in action and 46.6 percent without him. It even extends to three-point field goal percentage, as opponents have shot only 33.7 percent with Noah on the floor, but 38.7 percent in his absence.

On Thursday, Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said that Noah would likely play in three segments totaling 15 minutes against the Heat as he continues to test his left foot with hope of gradually building his time on the court as the team hits the stretch run.

With fatigue still a concern due to Noah’s lack of conditioning, the Bulls will monitor Noah and take it game by game, if not quarter by quarter. Del Negro said that Noah starting is not currently under consideration.

“I want to use him in the third and fourth quarter and get him the bulk of the minutes there,” said Del Negro. “He makes such a difference with his rebounding and getting us out in the open court with his energy. We’ll try to get him a feel in the first half for the flow of the game and see how his foot reacts. We’ll then expand those minutes in the second half.”

At this time, Del Negro did not expect a limit on Noah’s minutes to be lifted in the near future, even if the Bulls center shows signs of improvement in the short-term.

“I don’t know if we’ll take it off, but hopefully we’ll continue to expand it,” he said. “It really depends on how he reacts and feels. He practiced well [Wednesday] and got his work in [Thursday] morning, and there weren’t any ill effects or setbacks, which is great. Hopefully [against the Heat], we’ll continue on that path and move forward.

Noah leads the Bulls with 23 double-doubles this year, 25th best in the NBA. He presently is one of nine players in the NBA who is averaging a double-double. His double-double tally this season surpasses his total of 17 that he produced his first two years in the NBA. Noah’s double-doubles are the most by a Bull since Donyell Marshall posted 30 double-doubles in 2002-03.

Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on the plan for Joakim Noah, his thoughts on Charles Barkley’s complimentary comments, and the job James Johnson has done as a starter (03.25.10):

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