Tom Thibodeau has attained a massive basketball inheritance as the new head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team with arguably the most promising young core in the NBA with now realistic expectations of competing for a potential playoff bid next season.
This week it was reported that Bulls center Joakim Noah, set to be a free agent on July 1, is being targeted by the Timberwolves to reunite him with his former head coach. Thibodeau coached Noah for four seasons in Chicago, which were the best of his career. Noah’s relentless motor fed right into Thibodeau’s philosophy, which was grinding, rebounding, and defending.
Noah didn’t finish the 2016 season after injuring his shoulder in January, but he’s expected to be ready for next season.
Heard again today from a second person that Joakim Noah is 100% healthy. Still would be a detailed physical, I presume, upon signing. #NBA
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) June 6, 2016
At his competitive best, Noah, 31, is just the type of veteran addition the Timberwolves need for this next phase of their progression. His experience in the league and with Thibodeau is noted, but it’s what he brings on the court as a playmaking center that can help the Timberwolves reach a new level of capability.
Noah is one of the best rim-running centers you’ll find, a quality that’s needed for the kind of young horses Minnesota has in Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s also one of the most versatile. His skill set is something the Timberwolves don’t have in Gorgui Dieng, who’s shown respective improvement in his three seasons. With the ability to push the ball in transition himself, Noah can help initiate offense.
There’s his innate knack for operating out of the high post, where Noah can beat you with his adept lefty drives.
And then my personal favorite attribute of Noah’s game, his passing.
Inserting Noah’s presence as a playmaker adds a new and needed layer to the Timberwolves on both ends of the floor. Dieng and Noah could easily stagger each other, both as serviceable options for Thibodeau at the five. More importantly, they each compliment Karl-Anthony Towns in their own ways. What Noah does is provide more of an active pressure release with his ability to manufacture offense as a high-IQ passer and screener.
This reported pursuit makes plenty of sense to me as Noah adds the kind of value that can inject an edge and contribute to the Timberwolves’ legitimacy and capacity for playoff contention next season.