When you hear the name Joakim Noah do think MVP? You probably think of that goofy kid on draft day in the white tuxedo and bow tie. Many people don’t, especially this season simply because of what Lebron James and Kevin Durant are doing. Both James and Durant are putting up great numbers in this season and are fighting for that individual award through their play on the court. Noah on the other hand is on a mission to make his team better and hopefully create something that most writers and analysts did not think they could do. For the second year in a row, the Bulls star player and former MVP Derrick Rose will not play. To make matters worse, Loul Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for just about nothing. The masses counted the Bulls out and then there were whispers of “tanking” when speaking about this team. Noah had a much loftier goal in mind, winning a “championship” this season. The question is, how could the Bulls compete for one after losing two All-stars?
Just a glimpse of his unorthodox way of playing the game and one can see why Joakim has been doubted though the years. Through hard work, will and determination he has become one of the NBA’s best big men. This Bulls team is built on emotion and who better to lead them then a guy who shows that emotion on every play in every game? Since his days in Florida, ” Jo” has been “that guy” that teammates love, people tend to follow his example. Winning two National Championships at the University of Florida has given Noah a chance to know what it feels like to be on top, he will not settle for anything less. As a fan of the game and a competitor, it’s easy to appreciate his intangibles. Noah has made significant progress in his game by improving every year and never lets his opponent outwork or out-will him.
Taking a look at the numbers, Noah is top five in rebounds in the league averaging 11.1 per game with 7.6 defensive boards (10th) and 3.5 offensive boards (4th). This is where Jo strives, a lot of his points come off of put-backs, a great indication of him having a high motor. This year he has added a different arsenal to his game by being able to find the open man in that dreadful Chicago offense. Now averaging 5.2 assist per game which is the best among big men in the league and don’t get it twisted, Jo can thread the needle. He is only averaging 12.5 points per game and that is a number you would like to see increase to about 16-17. Noah has also shown continued improvement on his mid range jumper, teams refuse to guard him from that distance because of his release and the twisting tornado action. Keeping that in mind, he’s really went to work in the wing area, right inside the three point line. Jo is shooting 50% from the right side and 58.3% from the left, not many attempts but enough to drive a coach crazy if you don’t put a hand up. By the way, were you aware that Joakim Noah is the only big man in the league this year with three triple doubles? He’s behind only Lance Stephenson, tied with Durant and Stephen Curry. Don’t forget to add on his 1.5 blocks per game and 1.2 steals per game, Noah also has a plus-minus of 2.5.
The things Noah does best aren’t found in the numbers, if there were a statistical category for intangibles he’d lead that as well. The hustle and effort plays: giving up his body to save the ball from going out of bounds, tipping the rebound out off a missed shot to secure an extra possession for his team, taking charges at the right moment, or taking the foul to not give up the easy basket. Teams feed off of things like that and because this is a constant for Noah, it has gone a long ways to help Chicago. A winning record, a playoff berth and they are tied for third in the Eastern Conference. All of this without the proverbial “star”. That’s where most are wrong, the Bulls do have a star and he wears the number 13. Can he take them to the promise land? Definitely not by himself, but maybe with a healthy Derrick Rose and some bench help they can shock the world. Should Joakim Noah seriously be considered as a candidate for the MVP Award? Absolutely, but unfortunately for him Lebron and KD are still going strong. As long as Noah can stay healthy and continue playing at this level under the tutelage of head coach Tom Thibodeau, teams will not want to face the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. Noah is a great leader, teammate, and overall fun guy to watch play. This team at one point belonged to Derrick Rose but now is slowly becoming Noah’s team, he may not receive many votes in this years MVP race but trust that people are watching him unfold into something special.