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NBA 2019-20: The Clippers add further depth by signing Joakim Noah on a 10-day contract

  • Former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah looks to prove his worth and provide depth for the playoffs with the Clippers.
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 07 Mar 2020, 14:59 IST

The Los Angeles Clippers look to add size and depth with veteran center Joakim Noah
The Los Angeles Clippers look to add size and depth with veteran center Joakim Noah

The Los Angeles Clippers have been looking all season to add a third center to the roster, and they possibly found their man in 13-year veteran and former All-Star center Joakim Noah. He was signed to a 10-day contract. After being phased out and banished from the New York Knicks for the better part of two seasons, Joakim Noah signed with the Memphis Grizzlies as a free agent in December 2018.

When he was there, he showed some the fire and passion in his game that fueled his prime All-Star years with the Chicago Bulls, where he won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014. His rebounding, passing, and defense were back on display. Noah will occasionally hit a jumper, but most of his offense comes from putbacks and cuts to the rim.

In 42 games last season, he averaged 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 16.5 minutes. At 35 years old, with a history of foot and shoulder injuries among other things, his days as a starter are over, and he is best served in limited doses off the bench.

During these 10 days, Noah will attempt to play himself into the role as the third center behind starter Ivica Zubac and backup Montrezl Harrell. But he could still be a valuable role player who can impact the game and possibly play his way into being signed for the rest of the season.

Promising Clippers starting center Ivica Zubac had a season-high 17 points (6-6 FG), along with 12 rebounds in only 21 minutes against the small-ball Houston Rockets on Thursday Noah vs LeBron i
Promising Clippers starting center Ivica Zubac had a season-high 17 points (6-6 FG), along with 12 rebounds in only 21 minutes against the small-ball Houston Rockets on Thursday Noah vs LeBron i

Zubac is a promising young center who can score in the post, finishes around the rim, and has shown capability in rebounding and blocking shots. He is also the tallest player on the Clippers roster at 7’0”. However, he does not finish games due to matchups, such as when teams go small and/or have bigs that stretch the floor. For instance, he was benched the last few games against the Warriors in last year’s playoffs when Draymond Green was in the middle. Harrell is always in at crunch time, is the superior scorer and provides intensity on the boards and on defense. However, he is just 6’7” and has been overmatched at times against bigger centers such as Joel Embiid. The Clippers are actually a relatively small team after Zubac; the next tallest player listed on the roster was 6’9” rookie big man Mfiondu Kabengele, who has mostly played in the G-League. This is an issue that the team has been aware of when going up against bigger teams like the Lakers, Mavericks, Jazz, and possibly the Bucks if they were to meet in the Finals. That led them to give the gregarious 6’11” former Florida Gator a try. Noah is capable of guarding the bigger, stronger centers, and still should be versatile enough to guard players like Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Noah fits in with the tough, gritty defensive mindset and culture established by coach Doc Rivers, along with players such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell and recent acquisitions Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson.

Noah’s signing could add yet another wrinkle to a Lakers-Clippers rivalry already teeming with many subplots: Noah vs. LeBron. The two have had numerous intense battles verbally and on the court in prior matchups between the Bulls and Cavaliers, as well as the Bulls and Heat. Interestingly enough, Noah was one of the centers that the Lakers worked out in the offseason, before settling on Dwight Howard, who has had a resurgent season. Furthermore, the Clippers canceled a workout with Noah prior to training camp, which makes it more interesting that they decided to give him another shot this late in the season.

Noah vs LeBron might spice up the Clippers-Lakers rivalry.
Noah vs LeBron might spice up the Clippers-Lakers rivalry.
Published 07 Mar 2020, 14:59 IST
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