After a season of bizarre highs and lows — the Chicago Bulls became the first team in NBA history to neither lose 4 games in a row nor win 4 games in a row and nobody’s quite sure how that happened — it’s time to start looking back at the season that was. Today, we learned that Joakim Noah finished fourth in the voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, behind Marc Gasol, LeBron James and Serge Ibaka. Luol Deng finished 15th.
Noah was a semi-popular pick to win the award in the last week or so, and might very seriously have challenged Gasol for the title, had he not been hampered down the stretch with his plantar fasciitis. Gasol is a worthy choice, as is LeBron — although there’s an argument to be had about whether LeBron was actually trying on defense for a good chunk of the season — but Serge Ibaka is not nearly as good as people like to think. His inflated block totals mask a fairly low level of defensive competency overall.
Having said that, Noah deserves the recognition, certainly. He took a huge jump in minutes this year and a similar jump in offensive responsibility and somehow also upped his defense along the way. As Monday’s game proved, the Bulls with a moderately healthy Noah are a totally different team than when he’s hurt.
Luol Deng also received one first-place vote and finished 15th. Jimmy Butler got one second-place vote and finished in a four-way tie for 16th. I’m having trouble containing my excitement at this last, so I’m just going to end this here.
JIMMY BUTLER GOT A DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR VOTE!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
Sorry, was that out loud? My bad.