Noah shows qualities reminiscent of young KG

Noah shows qualities reminiscent of young KG
March 29, 2014, 4:00 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — When you see the unwavering intensity, the tough plays made at both ends of the floor and the unquestioned leadership displayed by Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah, it's hard to look at him and not see a younger, pony-tailed version of former Celtic Kevin Garnett.

"He's a great defensive player," Boston's Avery Bradley said of Noah. "I don't want to say anybody's like KG, but you can tell he's always talking out there."

Just like KG.

"He brings energy on their defensive end and he's a great all-around player," Bradley said.

Just like KG.

"He's very good," Bradley added.

Just like KG.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens became familiar with Noah when he was an assistant coach at Butler and the Bulldogs faced Noah and the Florida Gators in the 2007 NCAA Tournament with the winner moving on to the Elite 8.

Florida won 65-57 and ultimately claimed a second straight national title that season.

Noah had a near double-double of 13 points and nine rebounds, but that's not what Stevens recalls was his greatest contribution to the Gators victory.

"He just raises the energy level in the room," said Stevens who went on to become Butler's head coach and led the Bulldogs to a pair of national runner-up finishes. "I mean, everybody's energy level."

And that quality, Stevens said, has clearly translated to the NBA.

In preparation for Sunday's game against the Bulls, Stevens watched some of Chicago's most recent game against the Indiana Pacers.

Noah's impact was evident within the first minute of play.

"It's unbelievable how enthusiastic he is," said Stevens who added, "how physical he is, how tough he is, how much of a teammate he is. It shoots off the page. In all those categories, he is as elite as anyone in our game."

Even when he's not on the floor, Stevens says, his presence remains strong.

"He can impact a game cheering," Stevens said. "That's what I love about him. That's what he does. He's sitting there on the bench after getting four fouls the other day, going nuts. That's the way he was at Florida. They had a great team. But when he'd start going nuts, they'd start going nuts as a team. He just impacts everybody."

Added Bradley: "It's amazing. You don't see people take pride on the defensive end like that, especially a post player. It's exciting to see."

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