CHICAGO — We all knew that Derrick Rose was going to be the top rated Bull in the latest ESPN player rankings, but after the elephant in the room is discussed, the question becomes who else form the NBA’s best team record-wise in 2010-11 makes the list?
After Rose the next man up is probably another obvious choice: Joakim Noah.
He’s hated basically everywhere outside of Chicago and Gainseville, but Noah is more than just a loud mouth and animated player on the court.
Noah has a really good chance of becoming Rose’s No. 2. He’s already there in terms of popularity in Chicago and even though he will never be a real scoring threat, what he does and how he compliments Rose’s swagger is beyond valuable to the Bulls.
Noah could have easily been the Defensive Player of the Year last year had he not missed 10 weeks recovering from hand surgery. He is a rebounding machine and he is one of the reasons that Rose had such an amazing year last season.
Noah gives the Bulls swagger in that he gives them second chances at scoring. If anyone on the Bulls roster takes a shot, they can be confident that chances are Noah is under the basket waiting to gobble it up and sling it back out to the perimeter or simply slam in the put-pack.
We all love the put-backs because that’s when we see Noah’s warrior like flex and cry of accomplishment.
But Noah does more than just rebound the ball and give second chances. He is turning into a top NBA defender and he’s doing it in a tough conference. Besides the Lakers and the Thunder, the West doesn’t have a solid roster anywhere else that is really dominating. There are no big names to scare you.
In the East, Noah gets guys like Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, and Dwight Howard on a pretty regular basis. These tough match-ups seemed daunting in Noah’s early career but he has blossomed into a real defender when faced with players of high caliber talent.
Noah is only going to get better and unlike Rose, I have no real problem with where the so-called experts ranked him. He is, as of right now, the 29th best player in the NBA. But with Rose in desperate need of a Scottie Pippen, Noah can fill that void in ways Scottie didn’t have to with Jordan. Scottie wasn’t a center, he didn’t play the way Noah plays but they both can compliment their superstar counterparts better than anyone in the league. I do still think the Bulls need a No. 2 scoring threat to compliment Rose and Noah isn’t the long term answer as a No.2 to to Rose, but when it is all said and done, Noah can easily be No.2-B to whatever shooting guard the Bulls bring in to sidekick Rose.
Just think of that: Derrick Rose with two very diverse No. 2′s/ How can the Bulls lose?
Sure makes you miss basketball doesn’t it.
Check back all this month as we breakdown and profile the Bulls who made it into the Top 500 NBA Players as ranked by ESPN.