Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fantasy Basketball Add Alert - Joakim Noah To Start At Center For The Bulls

Last night in the Bulls' first game since Thursday's 11 player 3-team trade that ended the Ben Wallace experiment in Chicago, Joakim Noah started at center and played extremely well putting up 14 points, 10 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks in a season high 38 minutes.

According to the Chicago Tribune, it appears that the acquisition of Drew Gooden (who didn't play last night) will not interfere with Noah's playing time and he will be the Bulls's starter at center for the remainder of the season. This leaves Gooden and Tyrus Thomas to battle for minutes at power forward with Gooden most likely starting and Thomas coming off the bench.

Fantasy Impact

I have been writing about Noah's virtues since Luol Deng went down in January and it appears he has finally received his break as the starting center in Chicago. Noah is an excellent fantasy option due to his ability to fill up the stat sheet as he showed on Friday night. Noah will score in the mid-teens given his ability to finish around the rim and create excellent scoring opportunities for himself by being active off the ball. He is also a strong rebounder, averaging over 10 rebounds in the 5 games this season where he has received 25+ minutes.

Scoring and rebounding are Noah's strong suits; however, his aggressive defensive style allows him to contribute in steals and blocks. He should be good for about a steal and a block a night in his new starting role.

Noah has struggled from the field a bit, posting a FG% of 44.6% which is poor for a center and could be a concern for fantasy owners. I believe he will improve in this category and that his low shooting percentage is a product of playing out of position at PF much of the season and seeing inconsistent minutes.

Noah's splits seem to back up this assertion as he is shooting around 41% when playing PF as opposed to 48% at center. Further, his FG% rises to nearly 49% in the 4 games he has started compared to 43% when coming off the bench. Noah should see more high quality looks closer to the basket as the starting center and I think he will shoot around 50% from the field going forward.

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