Commentary

Joakim Noah is just getting started

Bulls center is poised to break out next season, while Ray Allen is due for a slide

Updated: October 14, 2011, 4:14 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton and David Thorpe | ESPN Insider
Joakim NoahMike DiNovo/US PresswireJoakim Noah is primed for a jump in production next season.

When ESPN.com's player rankings reached the top 50, we had two of our Insiders evaluate a player who figures to rise up the ranks next season, and another who is likely to slide.

Man up: Joakim Noah (No. 29)

By the numbers: If I know Coach Thorpe, he's about to tell you about all of Noah's wonderful qualities that cannot be captured on the stat sheet. Well, before he gets to that, I'm going to point out that Noah is pretty good by the numbers, too. No, he's never going to be a 20-point scorer. He probably won't even be the second-best scorer on the Bulls. But Noah is so good everywhere else that he rated as the league's 19th-best starter on a per-minute basis last season by my win percentage metric.

What makes Noah unique is that he can do the things teams typically ask of their centers, but also much more. He anchored the league's best defense, ranking 12th in rebound percentage among players with at least 1,000 minutes and blocking shots at an above-average rate for a center. On offense, he was a great finisher at the basket as a pick-and-roll partner for teammate Derrick Rose and kept possessions alive with offensive boards.