Bulls

'Point-center' Noah earns second career triple-double

965997.png

'Point-center' Noah earns second career triple-double

Death by point center, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, is a sight to behold.

It kills you, the Maywood, Ill., native said after his teams 100-89 loss Tuesday night to his hometown Bulls at the United Center. Joakim Noahs terrific. Hes such a great passer. With Rose out, hes their point guard. He makes their decisions. I bet 10 times in the first half, the play clock runs down, he flashes to the ball and makes the play, either by scoring or with his passing. Hes just an extremely high I.Q. basketball player. Ive said it for years now and its getting higher and higher.

HIGHLIGHTS: Noah, Robinson lead Bulls over Celtics

When told of the former NBA point guards praises, Noah responded, DocI appreciate it.

I always tell everybody Im a point center anyway, but I always feel like I can pass the ball and I feel more comfortable with the offense. We have a lot of people who can score the ball in different ways. Lus a great cutter, Carlos catches almost any pass I can throw it almost anywhere, hell catch it so just everybody. I think it was a great team effort and weve just got to keep going, he continued after his 11-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist outing, the second triple-double of his NBA career. It feels great to play well and to win. Everybodys happy right now. I feel like were getting so much better as a team and even against the elite teams in the NBA, were competing against everybody and we have some tough games coming up, but lets enjoy this one tonight and get ready for New York.

Noah isnt big on statistical accomplishments, at least not discussing them with the media, but privately, he spoke of being inspired by watching the likes of retired NBA center Vlade Divac while growing up specifically in the 1996 Olympics, in person and being tutored by former Bull Brad Miller (ironically, Divacs replacement in Sacramento), one of the better passing big men of recent vintage.

Teammate Nate Robinson approved of that sentiment.

You guys are over here comparing him to Vlade Divac, which is a great comparison because he can pass, he can score, he can rebound, he can do everything. Jo is versatile. I love playing on the side of Joakim, he said. Jo plays hard, man. I feed off his energy every time Im out there with him. Hes an energy guy and thats something that a lot of coaches would love to have, a guy like Jo.

"He had a hell of a game, a triple-double. I was teasing him in the game, Jo, you need two more assists. Pass me the ball! He just plays the game for the love of it. If you watch him play, he plays with his heart on his sleeve, very emotional player. Me and him are kind of similar with our energy, so thats something that me and him cherish. I always tell him to bring the energy and thats what we do.

RELATED: Energetic Robinson sparks Bulls

Taj Gibson pondered the question of how many current NBA centers have nightly triple-double potential and could come up with only one, a player who the Bulls faced the previous night, Memphis Marc Gasol, except, Joakim is more athletic and he really can handle the ball.

Hes really New York when you look at him, the way he dribbles the ball. Before practice, he dribbles with a heavy ball to get his handles right and when he dribbles the ball, hes so fluid, and he just looks for players, continued Noahs fellow native New Yorker. Every time I see him at the top of the key or anywhere dribbling the ball, Im always ready to shoot and he always finds me.

Joakim did a phenomenal job of just distributing the ball.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau concurred: His skill set is so unique and it gives you the opportunity to play through the elbows more, get to more of a cutting game and then, hes very effective in the pick-and-roll. But he played with great energy. He just made the team function well on both ends of the floor.

Even after a big win and his individual achievement, however, Noah displayed the social conscience that has made him so beloved in the Windy City. If you havent noticed, hes shelved his trademark finger guns celebration after knocking down his Tornado jumper, in the wake of the recent school-shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

Noah told CSNChicago.com: It wasnt just what happened in Connecticut. You just have to be kind of compassionate about whats going on, man. We have issues with guns. Gun violence in this country is out of control and youve just got to be sensitive to that. I love this country. This country did so much for me.

"But I think its important to be more critical and we have issues. I feel just as American as I do French and the issues are complicated, but youve got to be sensitive and a lot of kids are dying. In Chicago, a lot of kids are dying in the streets, so thats why Im not doing that anymore.

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

jimmy_butler_dwyane_wade_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:


Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.