Joakim Noah goes beyond Defensive Player of the Year

Tim Carroll/Sports Columnist

Tim Carroll/Sports Columnist

Joakim Noah accepted his Defensive Player of the Year Award Monday, but believing this to only be about Noah’s defense would be a disservice to Noah as a basketball player and leader.

When Noah entered the league, he was a skinny, lanky player with the label “energy player” all over him. No one would expect what would become of Noah, as he struggled to carve out a niche early in his career.

Following a few breakthrough seasons in 2010 and 2011, Noah would earn a nice contract extension, putting him firmly over the $10 million a year club. He was then disrespected by many, following backup Omer Asik’s departure, claiming Noah wouldn’t be able to handle the load himself.

Omer Asik’s a great player, but believing him to be as valuable as Noah would be naïve, and Noah would show the world why in 2012-13 by making his first All-Star team with teammate Luol Deng.

Noah further made a name for himself following the Luol Deng trade. Noah could have looked at the roster the Bulls would run out on the floor, look it up and down, and have simply said, “Next year is not far off,” and no one would have blamed him.

Instead Noah reached deep down and shouldered a load to rival LeBron James’ with Dwyane Wade hurt or Kevin Durant’s with Russell Westbrook hurt. His load was different than the aforementioned superstar, but equal nonetheless. Noah became a point center, harnessing all that he had learned from former All-Star Brad Miller and became the straw that stirs the drink on offense, as well as defense.

No one will forget the year Noah had, not in Chicago. Clips of him embarrassing LeBron James and running fast breaks, finding DJ Augustin on a backdoor cut for an easy basket will remain on Youtube for years to come.

Noah’s versatility on the defensive end is unrivaled. He routinely has no issue switching onto a quicker wing player, almost hoping for it and embracing the challenge.

His offensive versatility must be praised as well; his job of running the offense has been fantastic, as well as his improved ability to get to the basket to make a play himself.

It’s seemed as though every game in the second half of the season has been a near-triple double for Noah. He has refused to give up an inch to an opponent, and has been quite the player to go up against.

He has owned the likes of Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard and Dirk Nowitzki.

Noah would not only be my candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, but Most Improved Player as well. He has somehow managed better numbers despite receiving slightly less playing time.

The Bulls may not appear to have a high ceiling, but with Noah leading the way, that ceiling will grow as high as he says.

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