NBA Fantasy Center Rankings

Joakim Noah Draft suit

David Kay’s fantasy basketball rankings are now complete.  There are several wild cards among the NBA centers as injuries make at least a handful of players have tremendous risk/reward.  Check David’s Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, and Power Forward Rankings.

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Joakim Noah is the NBA’s Leading Rebounder

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By Paul M. Banks

Just before the season tipped off, I wrote a column asking if Joakim Noah would make “the leap” this season. I saw something in him during the preseason that made me believe it would happen. Now bear in mind that making the leap forward for someone like Noah isn’t about scoring. It’s defined by becoming a dominant defender and rebounder- Or basically answering the $64 million question that Ben Wallace resoundingly did not. Noah is now giving the Bulls exactly what they paid a lot of money for, but never got in the Wallace signing three years ago.

At just under 12 boards a game, Noah is ahead of both Toronto’s Chris Bosh and Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace for the number one spot in rebounding. By also averaging over 11 points a game, he’s put out a double-double every night. And he’s setting a new career high in blocks so far, so I guess the answer is yes, Noah is indeed making the leap.

I recently had an exclusive with Noah, and asked him what led to his cleaning the glass like Windex this year (but not in those words). “I think it was just minutes, just being out there. The way it is in this league, the more time you’re on the court, the more productive you’ll be. You’ll pick up on things after games, crafty moves, holding someone’s arm, doing some dirty things down there that maybe you weren’t accustomed to doing when you were in college,” Noah responded candidly; and sounding a bit like Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer in their primes.

Another significant reason for his development is the ten pounds he gained from hitting the weight room hard this season. “It was something I needed to do in order to help the team this year, it was something I needed to focus on in the off-season, I feel like in that series against Boston, I was being pushed around a little too much, and now I feel a lot stronger, and I feel I’ve put on good weight cause I’m still running the floor well,” Joakim stated.noah

And given his role within the Bulls offense, which emphasizes the drive-and-kick in most offensive sets, He’ll get lots of opportunities to grab offensive boards. “Oh, the drive and kick game is huge. We’re a team that at all five positions on the court, we can play that draw and kick game.”

But perhaps more than schematics, or even physical development, Noah’s mental growth is contributing to his new found superior statistics. “I think he’s made another step- both physically and mentally. He’s starting to understand what it takes,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said about the third year center.

Noah, the former Florida Gator loves watching his old college team, but he also enjoys taking in a lot of NBA games on television, but he obviously doesn’t view the game the way we do.

“I look at the game differently now than I did in college or when I was coming into the league. You have an admiration for the players you grew up watching, and now they’re like your enemy. There’s no admiration anymore, sometime in my first year I felt like I would see guys like Garnett, Tim Duncan, Kobe, and you’re like oh my God wow, I grew up having the jersey of some these guys on, I once had a Garnett jersey on.” He said.

So I then inquired about him viewing these NBA superstars as heroes, and now they’re his peers. ‘Not peers, definitely not peers,” he responded.

And that shows a tremendous out of humility and maturity on this part. With those two traits, expect him to continue his fantastic play this season. And Noah’s career arc should continue trending positive.

Will Joakim Noah Make ‘the Leap’ this Season?

joakim-noah-suit

By Paul M. Banks

On Monday, the Chicago Bulls announced that they picked up the 2010-11 season options for guard Derrick Rose and forward/center Joakim Noah. By exercising these options, both will be under contract with the Bulls for 2010-11. The Bulls -just like most of us who follow the team closely- realize that Noah has come a long way since June 2007, when he was formally (and publicly) introduced to the Bulls wearing a suit befitting a Dick Tracy villain.
In two seasons with Chicago, Noah (6-11, 232) has appeared in 154 games (86 starts) and averaged 6.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.2 apg and 1.13 bpg in 22.5 mpg; he has shot .520 from the field and .684 from the line.  The Bulls selected Noah in the first round (ninth overall) in NBA Draft 2007. Last year down the stretch he started to become a rebounding force, and asserted himself even more during the first round playoff series loss to Boston. It was a legendary series where Noah truly showed a ton of toughness and prowess towards cleaning the glass. joakim-noah

I recently had an exclusive with Noah, and asked him what the key to his development as a rebounder was. “I think it was just minutes, just being out there. The way it is in this league, the more time you’re on the court, the more productive you’ll be. You’ll pick up on things after games, crafty moves, holding someone’s arm, doing some dirty things down there that maybe you weren’t accustomed to doing when you were in college,” Noah responded candidly; and sounding a bit like Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer in their primes.

The Bulls got hot down the stretch, about the same time that Noah improved his game dramatically. Therefore, he’ll be especially crucial if Chicago is going to improve upon their 41-41 record of last season. Perhaps the son of France’s biggest pop star/legendary Tennis Champion and runway model will benefit from being in Coach Vinny Del Negro’s system for a second season.

“I think he’s a lot more comfortable in what he wants from us as players, defensively and offensively. He’s got a pretty good sense of what certain players can and can’t do because he’s coached us. Last year, I think all we did was high pick-and-roll and this year we kind of have an offense set up, and that’s because we’ve been playing together for a little while,” Noah said.
So what is Noah working on specifically to help bring the team more wins this year?

“Footwork, footwork in the post, take my time more when I catch the ball in the post, even though our offense is not set for someone to catch it in the post, but when I do catch it, know what I need to do with it.”

He certainly can move for a 7 footer, and his athleticism should be an asset even though his jumpshot certainly is not. “I work on it everyday, it’s just not my strong point, but I also understand what my role is on the team.” Noah has a very optimistic outlook on the season which begins Thursday night. “I think the season is going to be fun. I like how the offense is going to have our bigs getting the ball a lot and making plays,” Noah said.