Joakim Noah's slow start to this lockout-shortened season greatly inhibited his hopes of making his first All-Star appearance.
What's more, people always seem to find reasons to critique Noah and belittle his abilities.
He has no offensive game. The form on his jump shot is atrocious. He just really annoys me. He's so overrated...
These are just a sampling of the negative comments often directed at Noah.
But, it's no coincidence that Noah is anchoring the middle for the league's best overall team. While there are undoubtedly facets to his game that can be downright perplexing, it's become more and more evident that he's a core reason for the Bulls' success.
Noah epitomizes the player who does the little things that lead to grand success.
His value isn't always tallied on the stat sheet, but you can count on Noah busting his butt every time he steps on the floor.
Noah will find ways to snag lose balls, tip jump ball rebounds out to his teammates and outrun opposing big men down the floor on seemingly every possession. As a result of his enthusiasm, Noah energizes his teammates.
These aren't typically the traits of a player who makes the All-Star team, but perhaps it's time to factor in these aspects in the selection process.
In the past couple months, Noah has played at an elite level in a handful of ways. The little things have certainly been there and he's also begun to fill up the stat sheet—now averaging a double-double on the season.
Noah has even shown his stellar passing ability, notching a triple-double (points, rebounds and assists) last month and steadily revealing his ability to drop dimes to slashing teammates.
What makes this discussion worth having is a couple of the names selected to the All-Star game ahead of him.
Indiana's Roy Hibbert was selected and, while he's an emerging big man, he doesn't bring all the intangibles Noah does. Hibbert's a quality threat in the low post, but Noah alters games in so many ways.
At this point, it's fair to say Noah's been a far more quality asset for the Bulls than Hibbert has been for the Pacers.
Noah's teammate Luol Deng is another name to consider.
Deng is a pivotal member of Chicago's core and he contributes on both sides of the floor, but Noah has stepped up more lately.
Now, it's easy to wonder if Noah should've gotten the nod over Deng to represent Chicago. Or, with the Bulls possessing the best record, should Deng and Noah have joined Derrick Rose at the All-Star game?
There's no reason to think this scenario would have been foolish.
One may be quick to think Noah will never be an All-Star because he'll never be a dominant threat. And that's true, Noah doesn't have the offensive skill set to become a top-tier, low-post presence.
But what Noah does have is the "heart, hustle, and muscle," as often declared by Bulls announcer Stacey King. And heart, hustle, and muscle cannot go overlooked.
For instance, in last night's Mavericks vs. Lakers tilt, Lakers center Andrew Bynum (a Western Conference All-Star) was jogging back on defense and it resulted in his man catching the ball for a wide-open dunk.
This may seem like a little thing (it didn't hurt Bynum on the stat sheet), but the little things are essentially the big things.
You never see Noah giving less than 100 percent effort.
Quite frankly, I don't think he knows how to not give maximum energy at all times. This mentality is in his DNA.
Because of Noah's high-powered motor and his impressive play as of late, it's certainly worth speculating if he should've been an All-Star. Perhaps it will come in the future and it truly should, because what he brings to the table is immensely valuable and should be rewarded.
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