Joakim Noah's Hustle Heroics Proving He's NBA's Most Underrated Star

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 18:  Jared Sullinger #7 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics box out Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls during a free throw during the game on January 18, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls pulled out another win when it looked like defeat was certain going into the fourth quarter, beating the Detroit Pistons 85-82 Wednesday night thanks to Joakim Noah's heroics.

Noah wasn't the one scoring down the stretch, that was Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Marco Belinelli. And he wasn't even the guy who hit the game-winner, that credit goes to Belinelli.

But make no mistake, Joakim Noah is the reason the Bulls walked away with a win, as he's been the reason for so many wins throughout the course of the season.

You see, Noah went into the fourth quarter with an impressive 11 rebounds, seven huge boards later, that total was inflated to 18 balls ripped down off the glass.

This is just what Noah does. He's got no qualms about shooting just eight times in a game so long as his team walks away with a win. 

In the process of becoming Chicago's most important player, he's completely bought into Tom Thibodeau's defensive system, and in the process has become not just a hustling rebounder, but a dominant defender.

Joakim Noah has been absolutely spectacular this year. Not only should he be a lock for #AllStar, but near top of DPOY talk.

— NBA Guru (@NBAGuru) January 24, 2013

Of course, the hustle that once defined his game hasn't left him since his game has evolved into what it is today, and his game-winning ball save proves just that.

The video might be titled "Marco Belinelli's Game Winner", but that's not what it was. That was Joakim Noah's game-winner via Belinelli.

Noah saved the game.. should make the all-star team out east.

— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) January 24, 2013

Noah on his save that led to Belinelli's game-winner: "I didn’t really see it. I had the cheerleaders’ pom-poms in my face." #Bulls

— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 24, 2013

Wow- Joakim Noah made one of the best clutch hustle plays you'll ever see- Bulls with another tough, close win, this one over Detroit.

— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerrTNT) January 24, 2013

People always tend to talk about a hustle player as a guy every team needs to win the 50/50 battles, fights over rebounds, loose balls, or even high post battles, and at this point Noah is perhaps the best in the league in that regard.

Of course, he's doing all that while playing defense that should put him into consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Beyond that, he's a terrific leader for this Bulls team in the absence of Derrick Rose

While Carlos Boozer is having a resurrection season, Noah embodies what this Bulls team is about, and he's shown this team how to play for Thibodeau, and how to respect the system that he runs, even admitting when he's wrong.

Noah on why he was benched Sat.: "That was all me ... Probably said some things I shouldn't have said ... it was my fault."

— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) January 22, 2013

Chicago is not only still well in the playoff hunt, but they can't be ruled out of the title race if only for the combination of Noah and the return of Rose.