The playoffs are now upon us, and the Chicago Bulls are the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Not many people saw this success coming when Derrick Rose went down again earlier in the year, but thanks to hard work and dedication, the Bulls have a shot to make a run in the postseason.
He unquestionably deserves the praise. He has put up crazy numbers this season, all while remaining the absolute heart and soul of his team.
So what awards and acknowledgments will he be considered for this postseason?
The biggest award he’ll be considered for is MVP. Obviously, he’s not going to win MVP, but the fact that he will likely finish in the top three or four in votes is really saying something about his level of play this season.
He averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. For a 6’11” and 232 pound center, those are some pretty dang impressive numbers.
If this award were to go to the person who meant the most to their team and not just best overall player, Noah would have to be heavily considered.
Defensive Player of the Year
This is the award that Joakim Noah has the most realistic shot at winning.
Bulls head coach, Tom Thibodeau, will also receive a lot of credit for the team’s turnaround based in his strict defensive principles, but it’s Noah that leads the charge of performing those principles on the court.
Chicago gives up the least amount of points per game in the NBA and that is in large thanks to the anchor of Noah down low.
He has faced 7.5 shots per game and defended them very well. Opponents are only shooting 45.5 percent at the rim against him, a mark that is very close to his biggest opponent, Roy Hibbert, who turned in an opponent shooting percentage of 41.4.
Noah may not be the traditional space-eating, paint-controlling big man that Hibbert is, but instead, Noah is an all-court terror for other opponents.
He leads the NBA in defensive rating, and the Bulls allow just 96 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court.
The biggest reason Noah seems to be inching ahead of Hibbert in this race is because Hibbert has faded considerably down the stretch of the season, where Noah has been consistent all year and somehow got even better after the trade of defensive stopper, Luol Deng.
If you look at their stats from the last time they matched up against each other, you’ll see the disparity growing wider and wider.
On March 24, during Chicago’s 89-77 victory, Noah registered 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocks, while Hibbert came in with three points, no field goals and five rebounds.
It’ll be tight when voting comes around, but Chicago fans will be pulling for Noah for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, as he certainly deserves it.
All-NBA First Team
While this isn’t an individual award, it is an extremely high accolade and Joakim Noah deserves to be right in the conversation.
Dwight Howard has missed a significant amount of time with injuries and it has really opened the door for Noah to be voted onto the first team.
Noah has stayed healthy all season and helped the Bulls maintain success even without another star player around him, where Dwight Howard has the luxury of letting James Harden get extra buckets on any given night.
Their stats are very close in every category. Dwight averages more points and just slightly more rebounds and blocks, but Noah averages more assists and steals.
Dwight Howard means a lot to the Houston Rockets, but what Joakim Noah has done for the Chicago Bulls this season has been incredible and absolutely deserving of an All-NBA First Team nod.
So at the end of the day, I see Joakim Noah ending up in the Top-5 in MVP voting, winning Defensive Player of the Year and having a good shot at being named All-NBA First Team.
What do you guys think?