Joakim Noah makes history in Tuesday's win over Hawks

Joakim Noah makes history in Tuesday's win over Hawks
February 12, 2014, 6:00 am
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(USA TODAY Sports Images)
Mark Strotman

Since the start of the 1985-86 NBA season there have been 1,107 triple-doubles. But what Joakim Noah accomplished Tuesday night was special.

The All-Star center was superb in the Bulls' 100-85 win over the Atlanta Hawks, racking up 19 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and three blocks in 41 minutes.

Noah was +16 in the win, helped the Bulls out-rebound Atlanta 57-28 and was the main reason for the Bulls assisting on 30 of 43 made baskets.

Noah's line seems impressive on the surface, and when put against the test of time becomes even more spectacular.

Since 1985-86, only 10 other players have totaled at least 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in a single game. Those 10 players, plus Noah, have accomplished the feat 23 times.

[RELATED: Happy, healthy Noah dominates in triple-double effort]

Noah joins a list including Charles Barkley (5x), Larry Bird (3x), Vlade Divac, Steve Francis, Larry Johnson, Magic Johnson (2x), Jason Kidd (2x), Fat Lever (4x), Lamar Odom (2x) and Alvin Robertson.

But delving further into it, since 1985-86 only one player, Larry Bird in 1987, has totaled at least 19 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists AND three blocks.

In that Jan. 4 game, Bird scored 30 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, handed out 15 assists and blocked three shots in a 103-86 win over the Washington Bullets.

DATE PLAYER TEAM PTS REB AST BLK
Feb. 11, 2013 Joakim Noah CHI 19 16 11 3
Jan. 4, 1987 Larry Bird BOS 30 17 15 4

 

No one will mistake Noah for Larry Legend any time soon, but it's still quite the feat that only these two players have reached the four thresholds since 1985-86. Noah's unique skill set and ever-improving passing -- he's averaging a career-best 4.3 assists and has increased his assist totals each of his seven NBA seasons -- has made him one of the most versatile big men in the game. In fact, he's the only player in the NBA averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game. Kevin Love (3.9 assists) and Pau Gasol (3.4 assists) are the closest to reaching such thresholds.

After Tuesday night's contest Noah attributed his improved passing to, of all things, his ability to drive.

"A lot of players that guard me, they back up a lot, they give me a lot of space because I can drive," he said, "and that just opens up the dribble-handoff game. So I've just been trying to concentrate on making quick decisions and trying to get my teammates open."

[MORE: Bulls return home with impressive win over Hawks]

Noah's midrange numbers (10 feet to the 3-point line) are down from a year ago when he made 36.6 percent -- he's made just 32.9 percent this year -- which also may attribute to why defenders have backed off him in halfcourt sets.

But Noah has 57 recorded drives to the basket, per Sport VU data on NBA.com, and is shooting 35 percent on such attempts. Only DeMarcus Cousins (43.6 percent), Andray Blatche (41.2 percent) and Spencer Hawes (36.8 percent) have a better field goal percentage on drives among centers.

Unsurprisingly, Hawes ranks second among centers in assists per game (3.3) and Cousins ranks third (2.9) behind Noah (4.0). Blatche plays just 21.7 minutes per game but is still ninth among centers in assists (1.5) per game.

Noah is having an All-Star season and will be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. But as the numbers prove, he's also joining some historic company in his best season as an NBA veteran.

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