The Chicago Bulls have taken the NBA by storm this year with their ferocious play and spirited work on the court after an abysmal start to the season. Chicago star Derrick Rose suffered yet another season-ending injury after just 10 games, but through the loss of one leader, another one was more than eager to step up.
This season will forever be known as the year two-time All-Star center Joakim Noah burst out of his shell and became feared around the league as one of the best big men in the game. The effort he’s shown on both sides of the court, coupled with his effective leadership, should put him in top talks to win the MVP award this year.
People who have followed the Bulls for the past few years already know the effort Noah puts in on the court, so it’s encouraging to finally see the rest of the league opening their eyes and paying their respects to Chicago’s unspoken best player. In many ways, Noah has really been able to come into his own due to Rose’s consecutive season-ending injuries.
Statistically, this is Noah’s best year in his career yet, as he’s averaging 12.0 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. But what’s even more amazing are the numbers Noah puts up in areas centers are not really skilled in. His assists this year have been astounding, averaging 4.7 assists per game. Just in this season alone, Noah has had two triple-doubles, and until teams find a comprehensive way of shutting him down, it would not be surprising to see him have more.
In the 2010-11 season, Rose was famous for proclaiming, “Why can’t I be MVP?” As if by providence, that year Rose ended with 25.0 points and 7.7 assists per game, becoming the youngest player to win the MVP at 23-years old. From the looks of it, Noah is having a similar MVP-worthy year of his own. Noah has not said anything about wanting to win the MVP, and his full, undivided attention is focused squarely on guiding his team as safely as possible through the end of the year.
But based on his dominant play this season, Noah has definitely brought attention from those on top who decide who wins.
The two big names for the MVP award this season are Kevin Durant and LeBron James. The two superstars have dazzled fans with their dynamic play this year, but when it comes down to it, sports are not about the athletes who put the big numbers up every night, who break records without batting an eye, or whose very presence on the floor guarantees a multi-million dollar paycheck.
No, real athletes look like Noah, who despite not having the best stats or a household name, still support their team through thick and thin, who guide them through the dumps up to the top. The league should reward those team-oriented players whose grit and determination run their game, not self-focused stat-chasing.
As well, James winning MVP every year has grown stale. It reeks of favoritism, not an award for talent. Not even Michael Jordan won the MVP every year, and he was leagues better than James could ever wish to be.
Noah has taken the Bulls on his back to a serious playoff push, so long as all the kinks have been fixed come this April. He is the undisputed new face of the Bulls, and should be placed in top consideration for the MVP. If nothing else, the MVP conversation should have more than just two names.