Bulls fans have noticed that Joakim Noah's been back to his old self. His shooting percentage is back up, his numbers are back in line with his career averages, and he's affecting wins again.
He opened up recently about the reasons for the slow start:
"Yeah, no question, I thought about that," Noah said. "Sometimes you feel like because you're given so much money you're expected to do things. That's not the right mentality to have as a player.
"I have to play my game. I have to have fun out there. If I don't, I'm not the same player."
"I've always been a player who reacts well to criticism and doubters," Noah said. "I feel my teammates were always behind me. But I knew as well as anyone how poorly I was playing. And not only wasn't I playing well, but I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I wasn't playing loose out there. I was playing tight.
"In the beginning of the year, I was overthinking a lot. I was going through a lot of things personally. I feel a lot more comfortable now. I have to stop overthinking and just play."
"That's what was so tough about (the slow start); I know I worked so hard in the offseason," Noah said. "It wasn't a question of being out of shape. I might be in a little better game shape now. But I came to camp in great shape."
An interesting array of quotes from Noah. To be fair, I never saw conditioning as one of Noah's big problems with his poor start. It just felt like his timing was off to me, his tips wouldn't fall, his hustle wasn't generating the impact that it normally did.
I think the shortened training camp certainly had an affect on him [like many players around the league]. However, regardless of the root cause, it's great to have the good Joakim back. When playing at this level, he's one of my favorite players on the team to watch.