Let’s face it – there just aren’t enough notable big men in the league today to make a fuss about, let alone frontcourt duos that pose a threat. Well, with the Chicago Bulls’ acquisition of Pau Gasol, that just might change. Joakim Noah, the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is a force to be reckoned with on his own. He’s not only a threat on the defensive end, he can also drop buckets on the other side. Not to mention, he’s one of the best big men in the league that has vision to go along with good hands to drop some dimes. Add Pau to the mix, and Bulls fans anticipate a championship run.
Despite missing 55 games in the past couple of seasons, and being 34 years old, Gasol is still very much an effective player. He’s a pass-savvy big man that’s able to create his own shot, and should take a good portion of pressure off of Derrick Rose. Not to mention, Gasol is a two-time NBA champion, and still has the hunger to get some gold back in his diet.
“I turned down bigger offers and I prioritized being on a championship-caliber team and being in a position where I can hopefully put that team over the top with my game as well. I felt that here I was going to have that opportunity, and now it’s just a matter of getting to work,” Gasol said mentioned to ESPN.
Gasol’s stat line from last season was very solid, averaging 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. With his experience, shot-creating ability and his size, he seems to be an upgrade from Carlos Boozer. The Gasol and Noah duo in the frontcourt, assuming that Gasol will start over Taj Gibson, is pretty imposing. Sure, Gasol isn’t exactly a great defender, but his size and basketball IQ should help him fit into Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes. The one-two punch of Gasol and Noah will definitely change the offensive woes of the Bulls, since both are reliable for putting up points. That Bulls tandem alone should have teams shaking in their boots, but let’s not forgot that Rose will rise again. D-Rose will have the offensive help that he’s been wanting, freeing up some of the responsibilities of keeping the Bulls afloat when they need instant offense.
So, how good can the Gasol and Noah duo be? The NBA has evolved to become a very perimeter-heavy league, so it’s a rarity to have two amazing bigs in the paint. LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez can hold their own, and Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph also make a pretty good combo as well. However, this may be a pairing that could take the Bulls all the way. It could be something similar to Tim Duncan and David Robinson back in the day, where they were referred to as “the Twin Towers.” On paper, it looks like guaranteed success, but we’ll have to wait and see how Gasol can mesh with the defensive-minded Thibodeau. We’ll also see if he’ll be able to stay healthy. Noah, Gibson and Gasol can work the high-low on the offensive end with solid efficiency, as Gasol did with Andrew Bynum while on the Los Angeles Lakers. Gasol will also make it easier to space the floor. Can you say “easy buckets?” I’m sure Bulls fans will love Gasol’s consistent mid-range jumper too.
Whether you’re excited that Gasol’s on the Bulls or not, the Bulls definitely are. Noah is certainly eager to work with Gasol and even learn from him.
“Pau is somebody who is very, very smart,” Noah told the Chicago Tribune. “He comes with a lot of experience. … It’s very humbling to play with somebody who has won championships and with his pedigree. He’s somebody I can really learn from.”
Let’s not forgot that Pau Gasol’s got soul, along with the heart, to win another championship. The Bulls are all about getting to the top of the NBA mountain, and the missing piece might have been found. Sure, the Bulls were originally gunning for Carmelo Anthony; however, plan B isn’t too shabby. In the end, plan B might have been the better choice from the beginning.
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.