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Old 08-20-2015, 09:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Bulls How to mix and match Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and the rest of the Bulls frontcourt

Obviously, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol struggled starting together last year. The big-man tandem had their moments, but overall it was one of the great failures of the 2014-2015 Bulls.

The defensive disaster began with Pau’s immobility forcing Joakim to play defensive power forward. While Pau was camped in the lane waiting to block shots, Joakim chased stretch-fours around the perimeter, but was too banged up to pick up the slack the way he had the previous season. Offensively, Joakim was simply a liability. He didn’t finish the way he has in the past and his passing wasn’t as prolific, which allowed defenses to play off of him and defend the more dangerous threats.

Then, writer Sam Smith wrote an article about the possibility of Coach Fred Hoiberg bringing either Joakim Noah or Pau Gasol off the bench. But before splitting them up, let's dig into the numbers from last season and examine whether or not the duo should be separated.


Being that this discussion is in regards to big men, measuring rebounding stats seemed like a sensible place to commence. Using to compare rebounding percentage data to the other big-men tandems, the numbers verify Gasol and Noah’s poor rebounding. They had trouble on the offensive glass, averaging the fourth in ORB% and fifth in Opp ORB% out of the six combinations. Overall total rebounding was also not ideal, they averaged the fifth highest TRB% and Opp TRB%. Defensive rebounding was slightly better for Gasol and Noah, who averaged the second highest DRB% of the six possible pairs, but they unfortunately gave up the second highest DRB% behind only the Mirotic-Gasol pair (but it would have been reasonable to assume those two finished last).

Scoring and Pace

Basketball is a game of points, and as Tom Thibodeau is probably still barking: "SCORE, STOP, SCORE!". In Points per 100 possessions - Offensive Efficiency - and points allowed per 100 possessions - Defensive Efficiency - Gasol and Noah ranked fourth and third respectively. They were also tied for 4th with a net difference of 3.1 in points per 100 possessions. This combination was right around the average for possible Bulls lineups, which is not quite ideal from the starting frontcourt.

Although Pau was in each of the top three lineups in pace, he was the beneficiary of quick post-ups - according to, 74.8% of Gasol’s shots came in the first 17 seconds (considered very early to average) of the shot clock - which increased the pace of lineups in which he played, and subsequently, the amount of possessions in the game. While this increases the pace statistic, the nuance here is that quick shots does not necessarily mean quick offense.

These early post-ups help the Bulls get shots up quickly, but they come against set defenses. In Hoiberg’s offense, he will try to attack the defense in transition, before they have a chance to set up, doing so by using the foundational tenets of the dribble-pitch weave or drag screen-roll/pop.
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: How to mix and match Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and the rest of the Bulls frontcourt

Originally Posted by Basel View Post
Nice data presentation. I was surprised to see that the pace was slower when Gibson and Mirotic were paired and faster when Gasol and Mirotic.

Obviously, player health plays into all of this. We do no know how Gasol will play this year with another year under his belt or how Noah will rebound from all of the injuries last year. Personally I would also hope for significant improvement from Mirotic this year.

That being said, based on just the data shown, one would tend to favor a pairing of Gasol and Gibson for many situations and Noah and Gibson in defensive situations.
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: How to mix and match Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and the rest of the Bulls frontcourt

Main takeaway for me is what most of us already knew. Noah & Gasol really shouldn't be playing together much if at all. Noah has regressed too much offensively that he is a liability anywhere beyond 5-feet from the basket. At least by staying near the hoop he can be active on offensive boards and easy dump off layups. However Gasol does his best work near the hoop so Noah can't crowd him down there.

Basically unless Noah has a renaissance year, he should only play 20 min/game IMO, and should be backup C to Gasol playing 28 min/game. While that may sound very restrictive, the good news is Taj and Mirotic can play reasonably well with either Noah or Gasol. There are of course trade offs to consider for each combo based on situational need.
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Old 09-10-2015, 07:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: How to mix and match Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and the rest of the Bulls frontcourt

i think clearly someone has to go ...logically that person is gasol.

the bulls arent winning a title or even seriously contend this year unless a bunch of bulls have career years which is very unlikely.

gasol was all nba 2nd team so despite has age his value is decent and he is on a bargain contract , so he is the player you can get the most for in trade , he can be the difference maker in taking a team up a level provided they have the defense to cover for him.

his ability to make the bulls better is marginal considering the offense they are going to run. and he is a defensive liability at this point.

also the bulls while heavy in the post are light on the perimeter

in addition gibson and portis are interchangeable at the 4 and 5 , it makes more sense to get portis some time as a 4th big ,
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Old 09-11-2015, 07:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: How to mix and match Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and the rest of the Bulls frontcourt

I'd be in favor of a reduced role for Noah, given his lingering injury issues that don't necessarily promise to improve. With Gasol and Gibson starting you could theoretically bring in Noah for either one (though we obviously know it is less than ideal to pair him with Gasol), and who knows, maybe Noah would fit well into an energy-off-the-bench role where he can go all out and not worry as much about wearing himself down over the course of the season.

I'm not sure if a trade is necessary at this point but I wouldn't be opposed to it, especially if it nets a valuable piece we can play at the three. I also think there's inherent value in frontcourt depth, so if we go forward with what we have I don't think I'd be too upset. Trading Pau is an interesting thought... I'm not sure it would help us sign veteran star free agents in the future if we shipped him out after a little over a year (unless he was on board and heading to a destination he approved of), but maybe that is overthinking things.
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