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Improved offensive game garnering praise

Bulls riding Noah’s arc

Published: Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 12:22 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 12:32 a.m. CST
Caption
(AP)
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah shoots a hook shot over Detroit Pistons forward Andre Drummond on Dec. 7 in Auburn Hills, Mich.

In lieu of "The Tornado," Chris Webber called Joakim Noah's jumper "that sideswiper." Fellow Turner Sports broadcaster Steve Smith labeled the unorthodox shot "a knuckleball."

Whatever it's called, Joakim Noah's improved jumper and expanded offensive game is drawing attention beyond his career-high numbers.

"He seems to have tried to improve his offensive range," Webber said Thursday. "That sideswiper of his is going in. He has definitely worked on it."

Indeed, Noah is averaging a career-high 13.9 points, up from his previous high of 11.7 points from 2010-11. Granted, Noah is averaging a career-high 40.1 minutes, bettering his previous best by over 7 minutes. But Noah's game always has transcended numbers.

"The thing with Joakim and the reason he’s so many people’s favorite player is he puts his heart and passion and leaves everything on the floor," Webber said. "As long as you have a guy like that who doesn’t know how to be any way, he’s going to be exciting, but he also has a chance to be an All-Star. He has raised not just his energy plays but his level of play offensively. He has had some great games."

None were better than Noah's line from Dec. 7 in a victory at Detroit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his career-high 30 points, career-high 23 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks marked just the second time that a player reached those five levels since the NBA began recording steals in 1973.

Golden State's Joe Barry Carroll was the other player, but he posted his numbers in a four-overtime game on Feb. 1, 1987.

"He’s averaging 4.3 assists," Smith said. "You know he’s going to rebound and hustle. But he’s shooting 81 percent from the free-throw line. When he came into this league, I think he shot 68 or 69. He’s blocking more shots [2.3] and playing more minutes. He’s averaging 40 minutes, which is a lot of minutes in this league no matter if you’re young or old or superstar or not.

"Here’s a guy without Derrick Rose who is improving, I love what he’s doing. I love his approach. He’ll always be one of those type of players where you’d pick him first if you were playing a pickup game and all general managers like his approach."

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