Joakim Noah won't be able to play in the first 12 games of the regular season, but he's still looking forward to making positives strides when he does return.
Noah took part in his first preseason game on Friday against the Wizards, collecting two points, five rebound and two assists. Due to his suspension for violating the NBA's substance abuse policy, the forward will not be allowed to play in the regular season until mid-November at the earliest.
"It's been a long time away from the game," Noah told reporters Friday. "I'm still a work in progress. I'm just excited to get back on the court. I'm dealing with a lot of adversity right now. It's just where the cards fell. It's like being a rookie all over again. I got to prove myself, I got to prove myself every day. It's my challenge. It's the challenge that I put myself in. I just got to keep working every day."
In his first season in New York, Noah averaged just five points and eight rebounds per game over 46 contests. He underwent surgery on his shoulder in April, so he hopes that all systems are go by the time his suspension is over.
"This is not easy at all," he said. "I've had a lot of time to mentally prepare myself for this. I've been thinking about it a lot. My whole mindset is just getting better each day. Just being able to play in this league, I don't want to take anything for granted. I just want to get better every day and help this team in any way I can."