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.