Last season the Chicago Bulls‘ Joakim Noah won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and even placed fourth in MVP voting. It’s hard to believe he could improve upon his success, but with the return of Derrick Rose and the addition of Pau Gasol, it is certainly possible.
In 35.3 minutes per game, Noah averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists — all career highs. He also shot 48 percent from the field and had a much improved mid-range jumper. He had a defensive rating of 96 and had a defensive win share of 6.6 — both were first in the NBA. An impressive facet of his game was his ability to be a facilitator — his 5.4 assists led the team. He also recorded four triple-doubles last season.
This season, Noah will share the paint with fellow big man Gasol, who is also a willing and capable passer. Combined, Noah and Gasol averaged 8.8 assists last season. The struggles of the Bulls’ offense last season were well-documented, but with Rose handling the ball, along with Noah and Gasol, their passing and ball-movement can be elite. The San Antonio Spurs proved how lethal a team can be with unselfish play and superb passing.
The Noah-Gasol passing combo, combined with the shooting of Mike Dunleavy, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic will make for a more fluid and efficient offense.
Noah plays as important of a role as anybody on the team and will continue to be the defensive anchor on a Bulls team that is desperate for a championship.