CHICAGO – Thanks to carrying the Chicago Bulls on his back and into the post-season, Joakim Noah being named the NBA Defensive Player Of The Year was not only easy, but also well-deserved.
Noah, a former two-time national champion from the University of Florida, emerged as the defensive anchor in Tom Thibodeau’s suffocating defense after the loss of Derrick Rose and the unpopular trade of former teammate Loul Deng to the division rival Cleveland Cavaliers.
In enjoying the best season of his career, Noah averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists, earned 555 out of a possible 1,125 points and 100 first-place votes. Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers finished second in earning 166 points, eight first-place votes and DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers finished third in earning 121 points and eight first-place votes.
Noah becomes the first Chicago Bull since Michael Jordan in 1988 to win the NBA Defensive Player Of The Year.
Based on his emotional, energetic and hustling brand of play on both ends of the floor for the Bulls, the former Gator showed that not only does one need to be effective on offense, but also on defense and emerging into a real leader as well. While he may have an unorthodox shot and stats that are less than impressive, it was Noah’s vocal and outspoken nature that help lead the Bulls into the post-season.
Considering what Chicago lost in the form of Deng and Rose, Noah also deserves some MVP consideration as well, as the Bulls could have tanked and thrown the proverbial towel in. In the case of Noah, he carried the Bulls down the stretch, and in the process, emerged into the type of emotional and fiery leader that the hard-nosed and tough-minded Bulls needed, which is why his latest honor was not only a foregone conclusion, but well-deserved.