Report: Joakim Noah expected to come off bench for Bulls this season
It’s only been a few months since Fred Hoiberg took over the reins of the Chicago Bulls as head coach, and already he’s seems set on making drastic changes to the lineup.
According to a report on Tuesday by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Hoiberg is strongly considering starting Nikola Mirotic upon the commencement of the 2015-16 NBA season, meaning that former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah would come off the bench to start the year.
While Johnson says that Hoiberg has yet to make a final decision, Noah came off the bench in Tuesday’s preseason victory over the Pacers as Mirotic got the starting nod.
Noah has started 463 of a possible 543 regular season games in his career (85.2 percent). But injuries limited him to 67 games last season, and he was often ineffective even when he was on the court. Noah was also a poor fit next to Pau Gasol last season, as the duo cramped up the Bulls’ spacing and were forced to split playmaking duties from the elbows. Additionally, Gasol’s defensive deficiencies forced the Bulls to camp him by the rim which took largely took Noah out of the paint where he’s at his most effective defensively.
As the team’s two best offensive bigs, starting Gasol and Mirotic makes a lot of sense on that end. Gasol’s low-post/pick-and-pop game combined with Mirotic’s scoring versatility and range out to the three-point line will help create a dangerous offense for Hoiberg, especially for all the driving and cutting lanes it will open up Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. But that slow-footed frontcourt pairing will be a catastrophe defensively, and starting them together would probably be the biggest reminder that the team is no longer in the Tom Thibodeau era.
Still, Noah off the bench is intriguing for his ability to be a defensive dynamo and wage lightning wars of attrition against inferior second units. Noah’s game meshes well with that of Taj Gibson and for his part, Noah, always a team-first guy, seems willing to accept the bench role.
With this news, it seems like Noah is set to mirror the arc of another perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Andre Iguodala, who embraced and thrived in a second-unit role for the defending champion Warriors, his energy off the bench being a huge reason why the Dubs were such a two-way powerhouse last year. Perhaps Hoiberg is doing this for purely aesthetic purposes, but if Noah can replicate something similar for the Bulls next season, it’s the kind of tweak that could finally get the team over the hump in the Eastern Conference.
H/T NBA Reddit