Joakim Noah won’t win the NBA Most Valuable Player award, but he certainly deserves to be in the conversation. Here is a guy who has helped the Chicago Bulls to stay above water and in the thick of the playoff race. Noah and company have played admirably in the absence of star point guard Derrick Rose, who has played in just 10 games in the past two seasons due to injuries. Noah has become the heart and soul of this Bulls team in the span that Rose has not played. Noah’s passion fuels the team from the WindyCity night in and night out. He plays with such a tenacity and relentlessness that his teammates can’t help but feed off of it.
The first sentence of this post is correct for two, possibly three reasons (more later). The two reasons that are preventing Noah from winning the MVP award are Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who are the current front-runners to take home the trophy. Noah’s numbers don’t compare to those of Durant and James, but being and MVP isn’t solely about the numbers. A player’s impact on his team(winning), along with the numbers is what makes an MVP.
Noah averages 12.2 points per game and 11.3 rebounds per game. Along with points and rebounds, Noah averages 4.8 assists per game, 1.5 blocks per game and has a player efficiency (PER) rating of 19.84. He also has three triple-doubles on the season, tied with Durant and Steph Curry for second most in the league; James has zero. The numbers of Noah’s don’t quite stack up to those of Durant (31.7 PPG, 5.6 APG, 7.7 RPG) and James (27 PPG, 5.6 APG, 7 RPG), but he at least deserves to be in the conversation because without him, the Bulls might be a lottery team.
Blake Griffin has improved his offensive game by leaps and bounds from his early years when he was just considered a dunker. When the Clippers acquired Head Coach Doc Rivers in the offseason, many thought this would be the perfect player-coach matchup. River is one of the best coaches in the NBA today, bar none and Griffin is slowly but surely becoming one of the league’s best. Rivers is able to get the best out of all of his players and Griffin is a perfect example, as he has worked tremendously hard on improving his offensive game to try and take some of the pressure off point guard Chris Paul.
Griffin has now emerged in the national discussion of the league’s MVP and rightfully so. When Paul went down with a shoulder injury, the pressure was on Griffin to step up and lead the team. Griffin stepped up to the plate and delivered in a big way for the best team in Los Angeles(currently). In the 18 games Chris Paul missed, Griffin led the Clippers to a 12-6 record while averaging 27.5 points per game. The most impressive offensive statistic being his shooting 55 percent from the floor. On the season he is averaging 24.4 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor. He also plays three-fourths of the game, averaging 35.9 minutes per game.
Griffin has become a player who you can’t leave open for a mid-range jump shot. The Phoenix Suns found that out the hard way as Griffin went 8-8 from mid-range in a 37 point performance in a win. He is a player who can create for his teammates and has improved his post game. He has started to shed the “soft player” moniker, as he has taken a lot less than what we are accustomed to seeing from him. If the Clippers can remain red-hot and the Thunder continues to be in a rut, this race will be a lot more interesting. Especially if the Clippers can surpass the Thunder for the best record in the West heading into the postseason.
These two players will likely come up short in the MVP race, but both men are deserving of being in the discussion. What they do for their respective teams is sensational. There can only be one MVP, who’s your choice?