Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 12/26/12
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.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Three NBA teams achieve separation in LaMarcus Aldridge chase

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dallas Mavericks solidify future with Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan signings

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Yankees get A-Rod's 3,000th hit ball for $150,000 donation

Jeanie Buss: Brother Jim will step down if Lakers don't make deep run within two seasons

DeAndre Jordan to Dallas: The Los Angeles Clippers are literally mad men

Remember when the Cincinnati Bearcats were the scariest team in America?

Are the Angels now the worst organization in baseball?

Five reasons the Browns should play Johnny Manziel

Blue Jays need rookies to keep producing for success in 2015

WATCH: Sean Doolittle gets cup check from teammate

University of Florida developing high-tech smart mouth guard

Pat McAfee is the best punter in NFL history

Mets coach on slump: The only thing left is human sacrifice

MLB teams who will continue to surprise in second half

2015 Women’s World Cup Final: The Rematch

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

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.