Joakim Noah is not off to a good start this season. He is shooting just 41.2 percent (down from 52.5 percent last year), he is rebounding a little less and turning the ball over a little more. His defense is still good, but feels inconsistent. He has been benched a number of fourth quarters in favor of Omer Asik.
That’s about all you need for Charles Barkley to make a pronouncement, which he did after an uninspired performance Monday by the Grizzlies, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
“His energy level is not the same. I have loved how hard he has worked, but he has not played up to his capabilities this year. Even though Chicago has a great record, he has not played like he has played the last couple of years.”
What did Tom Thibodeau say about all this? Meh, reports CSNChicago.com.
“Jo’s fine. He played well the last couple of games before the Memphis game [12 rebounds against the Celtics and Raptors]. The Memphis game, we played poorly as a team. But I like the way [Noah’s] playing. He’s reacting to the ball a lot better.”
That’s a coach getting his players back in public. In private, you can get Thibodeau is plenty hard on Noah.
Noah seems to be one of the many players in the league rounding himself into physical and mental game readiness as the season wears on. The Bulls lost ugly to the Grizzlies Monday (without Derrick Rose) but they are still 13-3 and the top seed in the East right now. So long as Noah finds his groove by the playoffs, Chicago should be fine.
Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.
More than fine.
Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.
Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):
The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.
Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.
Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.
The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?
Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:
If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.
The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.
It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.
Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?
The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.
There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.