Joakim Noah NBA Draft Scouting Report
Mar 29, 2006, 04:19 pm
(sophomore season scouting report, see player blog tab for more recent updates)
At 6-11 or even 7-0, Noah has outstanding size for either the power forward or center positions in the NBA. His wingspan is outstanding and he uses it to the fullest extent to wreak havoc on both ends of the floor. Noah is also an excellent athlete for a player his size, running the floor like a man possessed, having nice footspeed, solid leaping ability both on his first and second jump, and possessing a nice first step to get by post players from the perimeter. He is highly coordinated, greatly improving on his fluidity, reflexes and hand/eye coordination recently despite shooting up over a foot in just a couple of years in high school. He is an extremely reactive 7-footer who responds to everything around him almost instantaneously and has still held on to many of the guard skills he had from playing the point early in his career. Noah is a well conditioned athlete with an incredible motor and boundless energy, allowing him to play for long stretches and seemingly never tire.
Offensively, Noah is one of the more unique players in the NCAA. Inside the paint he can score like you expect your near 7-footer to, relishing contact, always finishing strong and showing the raw ability to finish with either hand around the hoop. The jump-hook is currently his weapon of choice, and hes able to get shots off thanks to his combination of tenacity, slithery quickness, reasonable foot-work and outstanding length. Despite being extremely unselfish, hes the type of player that wants the ball in his hands as much as possible and will work extremely hard to establish deep position in the paint to attack the basket. His touch here is improving all the time, although his lack of strength will sometimes affect him by throwing the ball too high off the glass. If its at all possible, though, there is nothing Noah enjoys more than finishing with a thunderous dunk. Hes been on the right end of numerous highlight reels this year, aided greatly by his fantastic reach, which allows him to take the ball right at his matchup and finish impressively at the hoop in traffic and over opponents.
What makes Noah all the more intriguing, though, are the many guard skills he shows operating from the perimeter in half-court sets as well as in transition on either end of the fast break. After a rebound, Noah loves to bring the ball up the floor himself to ignite the fast break if the lane is available and his guards are not ready to take the pass. Florida has used him as a legit weapon this year in breaking the full-court press, and Noah has been extremely reliable in his decision making here. He shows outstanding ball-handling skills for a player his size, weaving his way in and out of traffic impressively, always with his head up and having the fluidity and reactiveness to avoid smaller players looking to slide in for the charge. In the half-court, Florida will sometimes play zone and go with a lineup composed of 3 big men, with Noah sliding over to the small forward position offensively. Whether at the 3 or the 4, Noah loves to operate from the high post and shows impressive ability to take his man off the dribble and make his way towards the hoop, either to finish off the glass himself, draw contact to get to the line or pass off while in motion to an open teammate after the defense rotates. He probably gives his coaches heart attacks doing so, but its not rare to see him even throw in a crossover move, bring it behind his back or even use basic hesitation moves to get his man off balance. On somewhat rare occasions this season when left wide open, Noah has attempted to show off his mid-range jump shot while operating from the high post. He actually knocked them down at a pretty good clip despite his extremely ugly release, and even tantalized a bit by shooting and making them off the dribble in the NCAA tournament.
In static positions from the post or the perimeter, or while on the move after breaking his man down off the dribble, Noah is a fantastic passer for a 7-footer. Hes extremely unselfish and uses his height very well to see over the top of the defenses and make highlight-reel caliber passes that most would just not expect from a player his size. His interior passing to his big man partner in crime Al Horford, or out of the post after a double team is particularly impressive.
Considering his style of play and the means in which he is used offensively, its no surprise to see that he draws a large number of fouls each and every game, particularly as the season went on and his role increased. Once he gets to the line, Noah shot an excellent 73% during the season, and improved to 82% in 4 games in the NCAA tournament, despite his unorthodox release.
Defensively, Noah puts just as much, if not more pride in on this end of the floor. He shows a lot of potential as a shot-blocking threat, utilizing his terrific length, excellent instincts, intelligence, timing, tenacity and athleticism to average just under 2 and a half blocks in 24 minutes during the regular season and 4.8 in 33.5 minutes in the NCAA tournament. Defending man to man, Noah does not give his opponent any space to operate, bumping him with his chest, challenging him, keeping his arms high and changing just as many shots around the rim as he sends back. As in everything he does, hes shows superb toughness, not being afraid to sacrifice his body and jump into the stands for a loose ball even when his team is well ahead and hes on his way to a 37 point night as he showed against Georgia. He definitely lacks strength and will struggle at times with wider and bulkier opponents, but he makes the most of every ounce he has on his thin frame and will never give up on a play. The same attributes above that make him an excellent shot-blocking threat also make him a terrific rebounder. Hes very active on the glass, going after anything that is remotely in his area and having good hands and perfect length to get the job done.
Regarding his intangibles, there really isnt a whole lot more you could ask for here. Being a worldly person who has traveled around the globe as the son of a famous tennis player and musician, coaches and teammates rave about his attitude and character both on and off the court. Benefiting immensely from a couple of extremely late growth spurts, its impossible not to notice just how incredibly much Noah has improved over the past few years, which leads to believe that hes nowhere close to realizing his full potential. His basketball IQ is high and his motor is simply off the charts, making it that much more likely that hell be able to achieve his potential as a player. Being more than just an upside type, his production is there too, as Noah was the MVP of the Minneapolis region as Floridas go-to guy in making the Final Four, and was arguably the best player in the entire tournament. Just from watching him for a moment its impossible not to notice how much passion he has for the game of basketball, constantly firing up himself, his teammates and the crowd with his antics (chest-pounding, primal screams, etc), showing great leadership skills and being just as good of a cheerleader for his teammates when a big play is made, whether hes off or on the court.