Why Joakim Noah Is the Key to a Successful 2012-13 Chicago Bulls Season

Ernest Shepard@@ernestshepardAnalyst IIISeptember 13, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 05:  Joakim Noah #13 and Ronnie Brewer #11 of the Chicago Bulls celebrate after teammate Brian Scalabrine hit a basket with less than a minute to go in a game against the Indiana Pacers at the United Center on March 5, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 92-72. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Joakim Noah has become a good NBA player and he is the key to any success the Chicago Bulls have this upcoming season.

That sounds as if it is a tough proposition, but in truth it is not as difficult as one would think. Here is why.

Derrick Rose is the Bulls' best player, yet he is injured and there is no set timetable for his return.

Luol Deng is their most complete player and he is capable of winning basketball games, but he too is injured. Although Deng will play, it is unfair to place expectations on him. That leaves Noah as the most important Bull next season.

There is always confusion in basketball when deciding which player is more important: the leading scorer or the emotional leader of a team.

No one will ever think that Noah would lead the Bulls in scoring. He does not have to. His job is to play good defense, rebound and occasionally score a few points.

But I caution you, if you define Noah’s role on the Bulls in that fashion, you have done him a sure disservice. You have labeled him an energy player. He is much more than that, Noah is the heart and soul of the Bulls and has been for quite some time.

His energy indeed does spark the Bulls and he is the one player who brings the attitude.

Rose is laid-back, quietly determined and always looking to make an opposing player fail foolishly at guarding him. It is Noah who scowls at him, letting the player know that tonight will not be his night.       

As the player sulks down the court, demoralized, Noah has sparked his Bulls’ teammates once again. The Bulls go on an emotionally charged run that leads to victory.

Being the emotional leader is not the only reason why Noah will be the key to next season; his scoring will dictate how far the Bulls can go.

It is no big secret that volume scoring is not in Noah’s forte, but that does not mean he cannot provide 13-17 points consistently.

The onus goes to Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the coaching staff to draw up plays that Noah can utilize his strengths.

One way to utilize Noah is by placing him in the post, allowing him to use his improving hook shot. Another way to help Noah is by creating pick-and-roll opportunities.

Noah is an excellent ball handler for his size. He can set the pick or have a pick set for him, freeing him to take the ball to the basket for a dunk. When defenders see Noah coming at them for the slam, their only options are to foul or move out of the way.

Getting Noah active on offense can have a carryover effect on defense. His low-post defense will be depended on more than ever in his career. With Omer Asik gone to the Houston Rockets, Noah is the only frontcourt player aside from Taj Gibson that is a shot blocker.

The Bulls are counting on Noah to stay on the floor by staying out of foul trouble and staying healthy.

Their frontcourt is thinner than it has been in recent seasons with only Noah, Gibson, Carlos Boozer, Nazr Mohammed and Vladimir Radmanovic. Only Noah, Gibson and Boozer are going to play more than 20 minutes a game making Noah’s availability to play more vital to the Bulls’ success.

Noah, entering his sixth season in the NBA, is on the verge of entering his prime years.

He is one of the leaders of the team. Deng is the longest-tenured player, but Noah is second. He knows what it takes to be a member of the Bulls’ franchise, what is expected of him and in which facets he can contribute.

The Bulls have six new players on the team and they will need his leadership, along with his emotion, scoring and defense.

The Bulls will need Joakim Noah to put them on his back, as he is the key to any success they may have next season.    

This season he is the most important player on the Chicago Bulls.