After beating the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on December 21, the Chicago Bulls have now won seven out of their last nine games, including wins over Boston, Brooklyn and New York twice. They have a record of 15-10 and sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, and first in their division.
Few predicted the Bulls could maintain a record like this without their star point guard, Derrick Rose, but they have managed to stay afloat.
It's unfair to look so much at team success when deciding All-Stars, but it's impossible not to notice the effect Joakim Noah is having on this team and say he is not worthy of an All-Star selection.
Primarily, Noah spearheads one of the top defenses in the league. The Bulls are second in points allowed per game, second in opponents' field goal percentage, third in opposing three-point percentage and third in defensive efficiency. This is a unit that has absolutely locked teams down.
There is no question that Noah is the most important player on the defensive end of the floor for Chicago. Looking at 82games.com's statistics, the Chicago Bulls average 12.5 more points per 100 possessions allowed when Noah is off the floor, an absolutely staggering number.
Offensively, Noah has vastly improved his game as well. Part of it may be attributed to the increase in minutes, but he is averaging a career high in points. His field goal percentage is down, but much of that can be attributed to the difficulty of shots taken.
Noah has been counted on to be an isolation scorer at times for this team. It is a role that he would have shied away from in the past, but is one that he has embraced this season.
Perhaps the most impressive improvement in Noah's offensive game this season is his passing ability. He ranks second on the team in assists at 4.5, which is tops in the league among centers, and second among all front-court players combined, behind only LeBron James. How many other centers in the league can you run your offense through? One maybe?
On top of all of this, Noah has had some absolutely monster individual games that are often key when it comes to being considered as an All-Star.
On December 18 against Boston, Noah out-assisted the NBA assist leader en route to putting up his second career triple-double in a resounding win. On December 7, Noah put up career highs in points and rebounds against Greg Monroe and divisional rival Detroit, finishing with 30 points, 23 rebounds and six assists. Against the then-East-leading New York Knicks at MSG, Noah posted 15 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and held Tyson Chandler to only five points and eight rebounds.
There is no doubt that Noah has stepped his game up with the absence of Derrick Rose and the departure of Omer Asik. If Noah can keep putting up the numbers he is, and the Bulls can keep winning, he will guarantee himself his first All-Star berth this February in Houston.
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