For what could be the first time in his NBA career, Joakim Noah has plays drawn up for him in the Bulls’ offense.
Just don’t expect him to give away any teasers before tonight’s home opener.
Carlos Boozer said yesterday the Bulls have been running plays for Noah in practice as part of the Bulls’ attempt to make up for life without Derrick Rose. But when asked, Noah wouldn’t give any clues to what that may include on his end.
“I’m not gonna give it away the day before the game,” Noah joked.
Noah, a career 8.9 point-per-game scorer, can’t pick up the scoring load on his own. He knows he is just one player who will be asked to take more shot attempts.
He got his start during the preseason, averaging 10.4 points on 49 percent shooting in just under 28 minutes per game. He was one of six Bulls to average between 9 and 15 points per game during the preseason.
“Everybody’s gonna have to contribute with Derrick out, guys are gonna have to probably contribute more offensively. There will be more shots out there. But it’s on everybody to step up and hold the fort down until he comes back.”
But Noah took the initiative this offseason, spending time with Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, working on his post moves and, specifically, the sky hook Abdul-Jabbar made famous during his illustrious, 20-year career.
“It was an unbelievable experience, just learning from him,” Noah said. “Somebody who has not only an unbelievable player but somebody who did a lot of great things off the court. Just being able to spend some time with him and listen to him, it was really interesting. But it’s not in a week that you learn how to make a sky hook. There’s a reason why he’s the last one to ever do a sky hook. But the way he practiced was very different, pretty unique.”
While Noah worked on his post-game away from the Berto Center, Noah has improved his mid-range game as well.
Per Basketball Reference, Noah took 101 shots (20.6 percent of his total) outside of nine feet last year. 15.6 percent of his shots came from 10 feet or farther in 2010. And while 20 percent of his shots were in the mid-range area in 2009, just 1.9 percent came from 10-feet extended his rookie season.
As Noah improves and becomes more comfortable with his mid-range game, that number and percentage once again could increase in 2012.
“He’s very improved. I think his experience, he’s always been a hard worker. You see the passion he plays with. He’s always gonna go give you 120 percent but his skill has gotten better,” Noah said. “He’s worked on his game, you guys saw during the preseason how consistent his jump shot is. His 15-to-17 footer looks great. His left-hand drive, he’s finishing more. He’s an improved basketball player.”