Proving Joakim Noah Has Been Chicago Bulls' Best Player This Season

Mike B.Correspondent IJanuary 11, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 07: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center on January 7, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Cavaliers 118-92. 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

No one has played better for the Chicago Bulls this season than Joakim Noah.

Of course, some fans in Chicago would rather place the “best player” label on Luol Deng. And that’s understandable, seeing that he’s leading the team in scoring and playing his usual stellar defense. However, most fans realize that Noah has been “The Man” for the Bulls thus far.  

No doubt about it, Noah is putting together the greatest season of his NBA life, reaching career highs in scoring, assists, steals, blocks and free-throw percentage.

The former Florida Gator has proven to be the ultimate stat-stuffer. His performance versus the Sacramento Kings on opening night is a great example, as he produced 23 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, three assists and three blocks. And to top it off, he impressively hit 11 of his 12 free-throw attempts.     

Here’s a video clip of Noah’s huge night against the Kings.

His best stat-stuffing effort of the season, though, came versus the Detroit Pistons in early December. Noah was nothing less than spectacular, as he recorded 30 points and 23 rebounds (both career highs), to go along with six assists, two steals and two blocks.   

Noah powered the Bulls to the victory, despite the team trailing by as many as 17 points at one point in the game.    

He became just the fourth NBA player in the last 25 years to post at least 30 points, 23 boards and six assists in a game, joining Charles Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett. Being mentioned in the same sentence as a Hall of Famer as well as two future Hall of Famers is amazing.

In case you didn’t get to see highlights of the Pistons game, here’s a video to check out.

Noah has done a phenomenal job passing the ball this season, serving as Chicago’s “point center.” He’s currently averaging 4.5 assists per game, which ranks second on the Bulls behind Kirk Hinrich, who’s been averaging 5.5.

Noah showcased his passing ability perfectly in Dec. 18 win against the Boston Celtics. The sixth-year big man messed around and got a triple-double, recording 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Yes, you did read that correctly, 10 assists. It’s not every day that a 6’11 center racks up that many dimes, right?

Here’s a brief look at Noah’s triple-double versus the C’s.

At 19-14, the Bulls have played great basketball this season despite the absence of superstar Derrick Rose (torn ACL). Fortunately, they appear to be headed for the postseason rather than the NBA Draft Lottery.

So why haven’t the Bulls fallen of the face of the earth without their franchise point guard? Exceptional defense, which is what Noah is all about. He’s currently leading the team in rebounding, blocks, steals and defensive win shares.

Without Noah, the Bulls D wouldn’t be as strong as it is now, and Chicago's record certainly wouldn’t be a respectable.  

Earlier this season, Deng claimed Noah was the top center in the Eastern Conference. Although Deng is a bit biased, he just might be right. Noah can do pretty much anything on the court. He can score, shoot, pass, rebound and block shots. He contributes on both sides of the floor.

While he’s not going to put up 20 points every night, he’s a high-energy player who provides leadership and makes his teammates better.   

There’s an outstanding chance that Noah will be an All-Star this year for the first time in his career. He definitely deserves to be awarded for a breakout year.   



Stats used in this article are accurate as of 1-10-13.