Joakim Noah: The Real NBA MVP

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Thursday, March 13, 2014 with No comments
Written By Clevis Murray 

"M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P" the United Center chanted as wild haired and high energy center Joakim Noah made his way to the free throw line against the 2x defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat. The uncensored Bulls center deserved those chants from 22,000 strong as he led his team to a 95-88 win against the Heat with a unexpected stat line from a center which was 20 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks. Nights like that are now becoming common with Noah as he has played like a MVP in the absence of Derrick Rose (Meniscus) and long time teammate Luol Deng being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With those two being gone from Chicago, Noah's game has risen to the point where he is having the best and most surprising season of his career.  In an interesting twist of fate, Joakim doesn't like the MVP chants as he recently stated the following:

“I don’t like it,” he said. “I don’t like it. Because our MVP is not playing. We have one MVP, and that’s Derrick Rose. And it’s not about MVPs, it’s about rings, and one day I hope that we can get one here."

When Derrick Rose came back this season most basketball pundits thought the Bulls had legitimate shot to dethrone the Miami Heat as NBA champions but in his return he was struggling which was expected coming back from ACL surgery but the unexpected happened very early in the season. On November 22, 2013 the franchise player nicknamed D-Rose and called Pooh by a few suffered a Torn Meniscus against the Portland Trail Blazers 10 games into the season and was out for the season yet again. 

With Rose out for the season as he would go on to undergo his second major knee surgery in three years all the expectations for the Chicago  Bulls were lowered right away as it would become another wasted season and similar to the 2012-2013 season when they played without their star guard and former MVP. Rose's load was then passed onto All-Star swing man Luol Deng but that didn't last long as he would be traded to the Cavaliers.

With Rose out for the year and Deng in Cleveland some fans believed the Bulls were going to tank as no one was left to carry the load and out from seemingly nowhere came Joakim Noah as he also commented on the possibility of fans wanting the Bulls to lose 

"I don't say nothing to those fans. It's all good. You're allowed to have your opinion. It's just ... that's not a real fan to me. You know what I'm saying? You want your team to lose? What is that? But it's all good."

The MVP is a acronym for the Most Valuable Player to their team and is usually given to the player that leads their team to a very successful season. Kevin Durant most likely will win the illustrious award this season for the first time in his career, but if were looking at the true meaning of the award then it would go to Joakim Noah as he has become a Bull with horns and is going through anybody in his way to prove doubters that the Bulls can still contend and also the seven year veteran is proving people wrong that called him a bust a few years back.  The All-Star center is averaging 5 assists per game this season and 6.5 since the start of 2014 and is clearly picking up the Point Guard responsibilities that Derrick Rose left early in the year.

If you have have followed Noah you'd know that he doesn't care much about his personal accomplishments but only his team winning. This season he is averaging 12.4 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game as all are career-highs for him. He has had three triple-doubles this season which is tied for second next to Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry. His 34 double-doubles this season have tied him with Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul. Noah is in the conversation of some of the best players in the league and has edged himself as a superstar and one could make the argument that he is the best center in the league. He doesn't care about his stats and the only reason why he puts up gaudy stats is because he is doing everything possible to lead his team to win and it doesn't matter if he's playing the Milwaukee Bucks or Miami Heat he will give you 100% each and every night regardless of his opponent because he isn't like some players that play down to their competition. 

A analytically in depth look at Jokaim Noah's contributions is tremendous as he is first among big man in assists per 48 minutes (AP48M) with a average of 6.9 which is more than most players in the league and is tied with Kevin Durant for the same average. Noah is averaging a 20.28 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) this season which is 8th among centers. Earlier Noah was mentioned as a great passer and he truly is as he is first among big men in assist ratio (AST) with a 26.6 average. Also for a guy that isn't much of a scorer he has had a pretty high usage rate (USG) as it is 18.5 which is good enough for 23rd among centers,me also has a rebound rate of 18.5 (REBR) which is 12th among centers.

Watching Noah on the court the first thing you notice is his great attitude and all out hustle which has made him a fan favorite in the Windy City. With that tremendous effort he uses it the most on the defensive end on the court and with that effort comes great reward as his team gives up 97.8 points per 100 possessions (DEF EFF) which is only second to the Indiana Pacers and third among teams in the league in rebounding rate at 52.1 only behind the Thunder and Pacers. Noah has become widely known around the league for his defense and Houston Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale has noticed him saying

"He should be defensive player of the year. He’s done a great job with these guys. They’ve been winning a lot just on his energy and effort, his kind of determination and toughness. Those are all qualities everybody appreciates"

McHale currently coaches 3x Defensive Player of the Year recipient Dwight Howard. Teammate Jimmy Butler also credits Noah as he doesn't know where the team would be without him 

"He's a hell of a player at both ends of the floor, I don't know what we would do without him. He's a great leader. He puts the team on his back every night." 

San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich compared future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan to Noah recently saying

"He is a highly emotional guy, but he brings it every night. It’s something that infuses the whole team. He sets a standard on the court for the team. Each of us is different, our personalities. He’s like the opposite of Timmy [Duncan] in that respect. Tim is the most introspective and non-emotional guy on the court, but the fire’s burning, just in a different way. … As long as it’s directed for the good of the team, which it obviously is 100 percent, I think it’s great."

Every coach in the NBA loves a high energy players because they know that's he's going to bring it every night and not complain like other players and also soothing that he isn't necessarily playing for the money, as Denver Nuggets Head a Coach Brian Shaw is going through with his disappointing team in the Mile High as he ripped his team apart after a 119-87 loss to the Noah led Bulls. Shaw would have one of the best rants of the season as he said 

"I told our team I wish paychecks were predicated on night-to-night performance. So if you play like a star on a given night then you get paid like a star. If you play like an uninspired player, then either you don’t get paid or you get paid like an uninspired player. And you can’t just pick and choose when you want. Last night we played Milwaukee, who is obviously down players, they have injuries, they’ve been struggling all season long and we act like the big bad wolf against Milwaukee. And then we come in tonight … and we tuck our tails and we hide basically."

When going against a player like Noah you want your team to match or have a higher energy level then him but 29 teams have tried and 29 teams have failed. Finding a big man that can score, rebound and most of all distribute is tremendous.

A few years ago Noah said that he dislikes Kevin Garnett but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that he secretly admires him as both are known as the most intense players in the league and a reason why he probably didn't sincerely admit that he likes Garnett is probably because a intense player like himself shouldn't let his opponent publicly know that he has great admiration for him.

New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony has high praise for Noah calling him the "Quarterback" of the Bulls and said "He's proven himself for what he can do. Hell of a defender, great passer, great leader out there, vocal leader. I think he's the spirit of that team."

Joakim Noah is averaging the most assists by a Center since Brad Miller (4.7) during the 2005-2006 season, but the last center to average 5+ assists in a season was Vlade Divac (5.3) during the 2003-2004 season. 

As the season is coming to a close it'll be interesting to see as to how many MVP votes Noah will receive for what he has done this season through all the adversity his team has been through.

In the month of March he is currently averaging 14.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 2.1 blocks & 1.3 steals as he is trying to get his team up to at least the 3rd seed as the Raptors currently occupy that spot.

Even though Noah won't the actual MVP award it is always good to acknowledge a player of his caliber that has stepped up the plate when his team and city needed him the most. He may never win a individual award, or any other accolades but nobody could've predicted that a 6'11" center with straight hair would have his name mentioned in the same sentence with MVP but Joakim Noah has and with everything mentioned in the article, that is why Joakim Noah is the real NBA MVP