You heard right, the Chicago Bulls are one of the nine teams to land two or more players in this years NBA All-Star Game. The Bulls are sending starters Joakim Noah and Luol Deng to Houston as reserves for the Eastern Conference All Stars.
For Deng this is his second consecutive All-Star appearance, while it is going to be Noah’s first, along with four other reserves for the Eastern squad.
These selections are no doubt based on the substantial increase in both players workload in Derrick Rose’s absence as well as the fact that the Bulls are currently 4th in the East with a 25-16 record. While many pundits and analysts wrote the Bulls off for the season, the trio of Deng, Noah and the crafty moves made by coach Tom Thibodeau have kept this team in the hunt since day one. While many scoffed at the signings of Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, and Marco Belinelli they have all helped Chicago maintain a solid presence in the upper echelon of the East.
The problem that Deng and Noah may encounter is with the coaches. Because the coaches for each squad are chosen from each conferences best team, it is unlikely that Thibodeau will join Deng and Noah on their road trip. What this means for both players is this: minutes.
I know the All-Star game is all about flashiness and giving fans what they want to see but sometimes the games actually become very competitive and are brought down to the wire. In cases like this it’s nice to see true defensive masterminds like Deng and Noah step onto the court. Unfortunately, even when Thibodeau was coach (last year) he only played his player (Deng) for five minutes.
Being selected to an All-Star game is an honor within itself, and seeing Chicago send the two players that have kept this team afloat is truly amazing and should serve as inspiration for the rest of the squad and for the city as a whole. I hope whoever ends up coaching the Eastern All-Stars gives them some minutes just so they can truly experience what it is like playing on that type of stage.
I also hope that Deng and Noah are joined by a few more Bulls who will be selected to the All-Star weekend’s other events such as the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge (Marquis Teague and Jimmy Butler), the three-point shootout (Marco Belinelli), and the dunk contest (Nate Robinson). All the names mentioned above should at least come into the conversation when thinking of competitors and the more players Chicago sends to Houston the better.