What has Joakim Noah meant to the Bulls?

What has Joakim Noah meant to the Bulls?
January 31, 2014, 8:45 pm
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CSN Staff

It's crazy to think the Bulls are nearly the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference as they continue to truck on without their two best players at the start of the year.

Derrick Rose only played in 10 games and Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland in early January, but Joakim Noah has stepped his game up this month, earning a second straight trip to the All-Star game next month.

[RELATED: Bulls' Noah deserving of back-to-back All-Star appearance]

In January, Noah is averaging 13.6 points, 14.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.9 blocks per game while leading the Bulls to an 11-4 record.

"Obviously, Jo is the heart and soul of the team," CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam said Friday on SportsNet Central. "He's always been the emotional leader, but now he's really taking another step as far as responsibility.

"Without the team's two leading scores in Derrick and Luol, Jo's impact on both ends of the floor is immeasurable. His passing ability makes him a unique center that's pretty much the primary playmaker for this team.

"Defensively, he's an anchor there. But more than that, he's just taken the burden on his shoulders to make sure his team stays competitive despite the odds."

[MORE: Joakim Noah humbled by second All-Star nod]

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau gushed about Noah, too, on Friday, in response to Noah's All-Star nod.

"All the things that Jo excels at make this team better," Thibodeau said. "That's why I think he deserves it so much. He started off the season slowly because of the injury in training camp, but he's been on a tear.

"This is his best stretch of basketball. He's playing great at both ends of the floor. But more importantly, it's what he does for the team."

Check out Thibodeau's full comments below: