Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Bulls_vs_raptors_6991

When putting together a basketball team, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a star like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, the most traditional approach to take is to build the team around the two rarest and most valuable pieces a team can have: a great point guard and a great big man. And when you look around the NBA, there’s just not many “greats” at either of those positions. Everybody knows the Chicago Bulls have the point guard to build a team around in homegrown superstar and MVP Derrick Rose. However, not many people give them credit for having a top-of-the-line big man, which, they may indeed have currently blossoming in the windy city. Chicago will be looking up at teams in the East upon #TheReturn, but it’s a task they’re ready to take on. Credit: AP That’s right: Joakim Noah. The French-Cameroonian-Swedish-American who helped lead the Florida Gators to back-to-back National Championships in ’06 and ’07 has been scrappy and solid throughout his career, averaging about 10 points and 10 boards per game since he started to get at least 30 minutes per game a few seasons ago. But now in his 6th season in the NBA and Chicago he’s averaging 13.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and 2.2 BPG. Those may not be overpowering numbers … so what exactly is it that’s got everyone around the league finally buying into Noah? Improved Offense Let’s remember that the Bulls’ offense will be much more capable once Rose comes back. So I don’t think it’s over-ambitious to expect to see Noah’s scoring numbers increase about 1 PPG once he does, which would put him at about 14-15 PPG. According to HoopData.com, the Bulls are the 24th most efficient team offensively in the NBA, whereas they were ranked 11th a couple seasons ago when Rose won the NBA MVP Award. So I fully expect them to jump into or near the top half of the Association once Rose gets comfortable with the Bulls this season. With that improved offense, if Noah can indeed average 14-t0-15 PPG when D.Rose is back, he’ll be right up there with names like Anthony Davis, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, and Greg Monroe; or in other words, big guys that you actually think of as capable scorers. And it’s not like his current number of 13.5 PPG is far off. Noah holstering his pistols after a made field goal. Credit: Getty Images Also, while he only averages 2.2 APG, he does have at least 5 assists in 13 of the team’s first 16 games while mixing in a monster game (30 points, 23 rebounds, 6 assists) on December 7th and a triple-double against the Celtics on December 17th, showing flashes of his big-game potential that has been held largely under wraps this season due to the Bulls’ lackluster offense. But again, it’s not these offensive hypotheticals, no matter how realistic they may be, that is finally bringing Joakim Noah so much praise … it’s his fierce defense. Top-Notch Defense Among all NBA players who’ve seen significant minutes this season, HoopData.com ranks Noah as tied for 7th among rebounding and first overall in a defensive rating statistic that takes blocks, steals, and charges taken into account. Noah has proven time and time again that he can defend some of the league’s best, including guys like Tyson Chandler, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, and others who could stand between the Bulls and the NBA Finals. Outside of the blocks/steals/charges rating that I dug up, my favorite stat is from 82Games.com and states that per 100 possessions, the Bulls allow 12.5 more points with Joakim Noah off the floor (via Bleacher Report). That speaks volumes to just how effective Noah has been defensively this season. And with someone like Noah, you can’t forget about the influences you can’t measure with statistics … If it weren’t for Noah’s, there wouldn’t be much for fans at the U.C. to cheer about before Rose’s return. Credit: Getty Leadership The Rose-less Bulls are led statistically by Luol Deng, who also plays phenomenal defense while averaging almost 18 PPG from the small forward position. But with Deng being a very mild-mannered, quiet, and reserved player on the basketball court, there’s no doubt Joakim Noah is the heart and soul of the team that has been the Eastern Conference’s #1 seed in back-to-back seasons and currently stands at 15-12. Other current Bulls starters are Carlos Boozer, who Chicago fans are not very fond of; Kirk Hinrich, who like Deng is somewhat quiet; and Marco Belinelli, who’s a guy with some fire but who definitely is not an on-the-floor leader. Heck, even Derrick Rose is somewhat reserved. So it’s clear: Noah’s leadership is extremely valuable for the Bulls. When you pair that with his stout defense and improving offense, you start to realize that he’s one of the best big men around. As far as elite big men go, there really aren’t that many names you can put above Noah. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not elite yet … and he may never quite be on that level. But as far as all-around game goes, you’ve got to rank him up there with the Tyson Chandler, Al Horford, Marc Gasol, etc. class. Speaking of those two, it got rather chippy this past weekend. Credit: ESPN Joakim Noah may be the current leading candidate to win the NBA’s Defensive POY Award and in my opinion ranks very similar to past recipient Tyson Chandler – a guy who has recently helped lead the Mavericks to an NBA Championship and the New York Knicks to an elite level. So don’t be surprised if you see Noah in his first All-Star game this winter and even if he’s hoisting some hardware once the season comes to a close. The man simply deserves it. — Follow Zach on Twitter for more Chicago sports discussion @GropSports! The post Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah Developing Into Top-Notch Big Man appeared first on Midwest Sports Fans.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: 49ers looking for young, offensive mind as next coach

Sheldon Richardson: I'm on the same level as JJ Watt

Kendrick Perkins: Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston

Report: Jim Harbaugh being encouraged to take Michigan job

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Eddie Lacy is ‘very blind,’ refuses to wear goggles

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell ejected for throwing punch

UNC wearing Jordan-era throwback uniforms

Brian Kelly: Justin Brent gets 'distracted,' is in my doghouse

Five free agent signings that should happen in 2015

Reporter asks Rajon Rondo awkward question about trade

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

Tuscaloosa students will have two days off if Bama plays in National Championship

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Reporter asks Rondo awkward question

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.