Bulls' Noah still on the mend, remains upbeat


Bulls' Noah still on the mend, remains upbeat

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
Posted 9:09 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam

Injured Bulls center Joakim Noah was in an upbeat mood when addressing the media to provide an update on his progress from his December thumb surgery.

Ive been working for a little while and just ready to get this cast off and get back to work, said Noah. Im just trying to be patient and try to stay in high spirits.

I just want to come back as soon as possible. As soon as my hand is healthy, I want to be back there, regardless of what game it is, the charismatic center continued. I knew I was going to take the pin out Tuesday, so I dont really know if its quicker than usual, but everythings been on schedule.

Noah expressed optimism that hed be able to go on the teams upcoming, five-game West Coast road trip Monday, which coincides with the date his cast is removed.

Right now, Im getting this cast off on Monday, before we leave and then I will rehab it until my hand gets strong, and then I will be out there on the court as soon as I can, said Noah, who acknowledged it was Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus decision as to whether he traveled with the team. Its Thibs decision, unfortunatelyI told him that I was going to get on the plane and hed have to kick me off and physically take me off. I really want to go on this trip. Its cold out here right now, so Im excited to spend some time with my teammates.

For Thibodeaus part, the coach told reporters Wednesday that Noahwho was working on drills with his left hand at the end of Wednesdays practice, much to the delight of teammate Carlos Boozerwould most likely make the trip.

Hes on schedule, maybe a little ahead of schedule, but now he has to strengthen the hand, said Thibodeau. The next step will be getting him on to the court to do non-contact stuff. Hes probably still maybe a week or two away from that. Then, once he can get through the non-contact part of practice, the step after that will be the contact part of practice. When he gets through that, then he plays. Hes still two steps away.

Hes in good spirits. Hes working out. He still cant do anything on the court, but hes doing his conditioning and his strength stuff, Thibodeau continued. I know hes anxious to get back. Hes doing everything that he can. Hes done a great job with his conditioning while hes been hurt. He just has to be patient.

While Noah admitted that conditioning and doing drills with his left hand is nothing like playing in the games, hes striving to be as close to game speed upon his return.

Right now, Im just trying to control what I can control and thats get this hand better, get this cast off, rehab, do as much as I can with my left hand and condition and strengthening, stuff like that. When Im out there, I want to help this team the best way I can, but we have been playing great. Kurt Thomas has been doing a great job for us, said Noah. Its definitely differentjust running up and down compared to all the pounding, physicality and pushing of the game; theres no way to prepare for thatbut Im just doing what I can control and doing the best that I can. Just conditioning, jump rope, squats.

Right now, Im in a cast so theres not much that I can do, but once I get the cast off, thats when I start the rehab, he continued. Its part of the process. I guess theres worse things, but just being in a castIm claustrophobic, so at night sometimes I freak out when I have the castbut hey, four more days.

Noah praised the doctors who performed the procedure, injecting his typical quirkiness to the explanation.

The doctors did a great job getting the pin out. It was a little bent apparently. Its usually a 10-minute procedure and it took a little bit longer than that. Its probably my fault. Im happy that its done and I dont have a pin in my finger anymore. Im just waiting for it to healI must have lifted weights or somethingdone somethingthe doctor wasnt very happy about it.

Im happy that he got the pin out without it breaking.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history


Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history

We're trying to figure out the best season in Bulls franchise history, and we want your help in deciding.

Because the Bulls tout the greatest player in basketball history, who could have made up this list by himself, we're giving Michael Jordan his own side of the bracket. But the other side of the bracket is also filled with some pretty memorable and remarkable campaigns.

So read up on each matchup and then have your voice heard by voting on our Twitter page here. Check out the entire bracket in the graphic above.

The Jordan Region

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96) vs. No. 8 Michael Jordan (1990-91)

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96): Jordan was on a mission in his first full season back from retirement. He led the Bulls to a then-record 72 wins with a regular-season MVP award, All-Star MVP and romp through the NBA playoffs, where the Bulls went 15-3 en route to their fourth NBA title. Jordan won his eighth straight scoring title at 30.4 points a game, with nine games where he put up 40 or more. He saved his best for Detroit, scoring 53 with 11 rebounds and six steals in early March. To prove Jordan was getting better as he aged, he shot a career-high 43 percent from 3-point range at age 33.

No. 2 Michael Jordan (1990-91): 1990-91: Jordan's second MVP came with his first NBA title, as he was at the peak of his powers physically combined with the ultimate team success, with the Bulls finally getting past Detroit before defeating the Lakers in the Finals. He shot a career-high 54 percent from the field while averaging 31.5 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists as he began to fully embrace the triangle offense in Phil Jackson's second season. Jordan had 57 games where he shot better than 50 percent from the field, and was among the league leaders in steals at 2.7 per game while earning his fourth straight All-Defensive First Team honor.

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11) vs. No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94)

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11): Where to begin? The youngest MVP in league history took the league by storm, averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62 wins. Rose had been named an All-Star the previous season but took his game to new heights in Year 3, appearing in 81 games, making 128 3-pointers (after making a combined 32 his first two seasons) while helping the Bulls rank first in defensive efficiency under first year head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose and the Bulls lost in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, with Rose shooting a paltry 35 percent on 24 attempts per game. But his historic season will always go down as one of the franchise’s best, and the only non-Jordan MVP.

No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94): Yeah, well what would Scottie be without MJ? We found out that answer in 1993-94, when Pippen took the reins of the franchise as Jordan rode the Birmingham bus as a minor-league baseball player. Pippen responded with a sensational season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He averaged 2.9 steals, shot 49 percent from the field and became a 3-point threat for the first time in his career. He was named First Team All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive First Team, and finished third to Hakeem and The Admiral in MVP voting. He averaged 22.8/8.3/4.6 in the postseason but ultimately proved it was easier to win in the spring with MJ by his side. Still, this individual season was one of the franchise’s best, if not the best. Hardware isn’t everything.

NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander


NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

For most of the college basketball season, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats ranked among the nation’s biggest underachievers. Calipari had perfected the one-and-done route in Lexington, recruiting classes full of McDonald’s All-Americans every year, making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and then sending those talented freshmen off to the NBA. Matter of fact, Coach Cal’s ability to get players ready to play professionally is the foundation of his recruiting success.

However, this season the tried and true formula ran into a bit of a speed bump. Injuries and inconsistency led to double digit losses for the Wildcats during the regular season, and an uncertain tournament outlook. That’s when freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander emerged as the leader of this young team, and sparked Kentucky to a Southeastern Conference tournament championship.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been even better in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 19 points with 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the Wildcats’ opening round win over Davidson, then coming back with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in a victory over Buffalo.

At 6-6, Gilgeous-Alexander has the ability to shoot and pass over smaller defenders, while also possessing the quickness that is so crucial at the point guard position. Yes, he is very thin at 180 pounds, but has the frame to put on weight once he’s introduced to an NBA strength training program.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been Kentucky’s most efficient player throughout the season, shooting 49% from the field and nearly 42% from the 3 point line. He has the quickness and ball-handling ability to break down defenses and get in the paint for easy scores or assists. As the season progressed, Gilgeous-Alexander took on the role of go-to scorer late in games, sparking Kentucky’s runs in the S.E.C. AND NCAA tournaments.

So, by now I’m sure you’re asking, where does he fit with the Bulls? 3 weeks ago I was hoping Gilgeous-Alexander might be available in the 16-22 range where the Bulls might be able to get him with the Pelicans’ 1st round pick acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade. Unfortunately, his outstanding post-season play has him rocketing into the late lottery in the most recent mock drafts, and he could move up even higher if Kentucky advances to the Final 4.

The Bulls are happy with Kris Dunn as their starting point guard, and both Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne are under contract for next season. But if somehow the Pelicans fall out of the playoff field in the West (which seems very unlikely right now), adding an athletic combo guard like Gilgeous-Alexander would be an outstanding pick at 13 or 14.

So, when you’re watching Kentucky play in the NCAA Tournament, keep an eye on the tall, skinny guard wearing #22 and try to project just how good he might be on the professional level.