January 28, 2012

Joltin' Jo

Ok, I admit I didn't watch the Bulls' 107-100 win over the Bucks on Friday. And I also never write anymore, so I'm rustier than a bike pump. But given those caveats, I'm sure you can agree that something pretty monumental must've happened to get my ass a-bloggin'. And that monument was Joakim Noah's stat line.

Now remember, this is the same Noah who just two weeks ago was the subject of several articles along the lines of ESPN.com's There's something wrong with Joakim Noah. A sentiment that I, despite my general distaste for the sentimentee, actually agreed with. Except I took it even further, believing Noah's subpar play went beyond this year, and dated all the way back to his thumb surgery last season. While I discovered the numbers didn't quite support that position (at least not on a per-minute basis) there is no arguing that Noah began the year slowly.

But since January 13th -- coincidentally(?) the day after the ESPN piece and a similar blurb in the Tribune ran -- Noah had been on a bit of a mini-tear. In seven games, he'd posted double-digit rebounds six times after doing it just four times in the season's first 12 games. He'd also scored in double figures four times after topping 10 just once in the first dozen contests. But all of that was tiny taters compared to Friday, when Joakim Noah went America all over everybody's ass:

Now, you might say to yourself, 'Sure, a double-15's nice, and I guess the steals and blocks look good, but why the furious reach around? It's just a good game." Well, yourself, you couldn't be more wrong. It's a GREAT game. And a rare one too. Or at least I thought it absolutely had to be.

So I used Basketball-Reference.com's awesome (and surprisingly free) Play Index Game Finder to investigate just how rare it actually was. Before I reveal the answer, I want you to get the number in your head for how many times you think a player has hit the following marks since the '85-86 season (as far as BR's database of boxscores goes back):







Once. It had happened all of one other time. Now granted, I sort of stacked the deck in Noah's favor by setting the thresholds at (pretty much) exactly his numbers, but still. And even if I lower the assists to, say, three, that only adds another four games.

You have to admit that what Noah's stats were, at the very least, uncommon. And thankfully, I'm not the only one trumpeting the unique performance -- in order to do them justice, I'm going to reprint the entirety of the Associated Press' gushing comments on Noah in its game recap:

Joakim Noah added 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Jeez, AP. Get a room.