Joakim Noah Leads Chicago Bulls in Assists, Despite Playing Center

Bleacher Report MilestonesB/R StaffFebruary 24, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 9: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls warms up before a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at STAPLES Center on February 9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Joakim Noah ranks first on the Chicago Bulls with 241 assists this season, giving him a chance to become the first center since David Robinson in 1993-94 to lead his team in the category, per ESPN Stats.

Known as one of the NBA's best passing big men, Noah is averaging a career-best 4.5 assists per game in 2013-14. Those 4.5 assists are tops among all power forwards and centers, with the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love and the Charlotte Bobcats' Josh McRoberts—both power forwards—tied for second place at 4.0 per game.

Noah set a career-high mark in assists per game in each of his first six seasons, a streak that will likely stretch to seven years at the end of the 2013-14 campaign. The improvement has largely been incremental, with the biggest leap coming between 2011-12 (2.5 dimes per game) and 2012-13 (4.0).

As impressive as his passing has been, Noah probably wouldn't lead the Bulls in assists were it not for the team's problems at point guard. Derrick Rose went down with another knee injury early in the season, leaving Kirk Hinrich, Marquis Teague and Mike James to man the point. Teague and James were non-factors, but December free-agent signing, D.J. Augustin, has done a solid job working in tandem with Hinrich.

Augustin and Hinrich are the only Bulls with any shot to topple Noah from the team assists lead by the end of the season, with Augustin actually ranking first on the team in assists per game (5.6). Augustin, who began the season with the Toronto Raptors, has 195 helpers in 35 games with the Bulls, while Hinrich has 198 through 46 appearances. Augustin trails Noah by 46 assists, and Hinrich is behind by 43.

Augustin looked like a strong candidate to overtake Noah's lead at one point, but the 6'0" point guard has produced a modest 4.6 helpers per game in February, after averaging 6.0 in January and 5.9 in December. Hinrich, meanwhile, is averaging just 3.0 assists per contest in February, which puts him well behind Noah (6.2) for the month.

Given that Noah has produced six assists per game since the calendar turned to 2014, the 6'11" center should be able to maintain his lead and join former San Antonio Spur David Robinson in history.