Noah for Defensive Player of the Year?

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Noah for Defensive Player of the Year?

SportsIllustrated's Ben Golliverreleased his first quarter NBA awards today, and Joakim Noah was dubbed the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year.
It's lofty praise for the 27-year-old, who has seen a boost in productivity after the Bulls declined to bring back reserve center Omer Asik. Noah is second in the NBA in minutes per game (39.8), trailing only his teammate Luol Deng (41.2) in that category.
But Noah's play has earned him those minutes, too. He ranks sixth in the league in rebounds per game (10.8), third in steals for centers (1.4) and fifth in blocks (2.3). He and Lakers center Dwight Howard are the only two players in the league averaging double-digit rebounds, a steal and two blocks per game.
The tiebreakers between those two -- Golliver does not list Howard in his top three candidates -- has been the Bulls' play. Whereas the Lakers have been one of the league's biggest disappointments, the Bulls have remained one of the league's top defenses and are atop the Central Division standings through 19 games. Golliver points out that the Bulls allow the fewest points per possession of any team in the league.
Golliver has Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka trailing Noah in the race, while Memphis shooting guard Tony Allen ranks third and would be the first guard since Gary Payton in 1996 to win the award.
While Noah has impressive defensively in the early going, he's also managed to average a career-high 13.7 points and 4.2 assists. Chalk it up to the increase in minutes, but Noah is playing the best basketball of his six-year career.
Bulls fans will also notice another familiar face in that Golliver ranked Asik third in the running for Most Improved Player. Brooklyn's Andray Blatche and Dallas' O.J. Mayo are legitimate frontrunners, but Asik is averaging a double-double in his first season in Houston and, with the help of fellow newcomers Jeremy Lin and James Harden, helped the Rockets stay afloat in the Western Conference. As of Tuesday's games, Houston sits just one game out of the No. 8 seed in the West, a drastic improvement to preseason expectations, even with the arrival of Harden.

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

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USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears traded up to No. 2 overall and drafted QB Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. Chris Boden, Alex Brown, and Hub Arkush sat down and talked about the moves made by Ryan Pace and what this means for the franchise's future. 

Also, hear from Trubisky himself speaking at the podium in Philadelphia as well as his former Tarheel Head Coach, Larry Fedora on what the signal caller can bring to the Bears. Finally, listen to the full podium availability of Pace after day one of the draft.

Listen to the Bears Talk Podcast below.

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

The Bears’ aggressive decision to trade up and draft Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 pick won’t create a quarterback competition this summer and fall, general manager Ryan Pace said. 

Pace made it clear that Mike Glennon, who the Bears signed in March, will be the team’s starting quarterback when they open the 2017 season Sept. 10 against the Atlanta Falcons. 

“There’s no quarterback competition when Mitch gets here,” Pace said. “Glennon is our starting quarterback. We’ll focus on Mitch’s development and Mike Glennon winning games for the Chicago Bears.”

Both Glennon and Trubisky, though, are no strangers to quarterback competitions — and coming out on the wrong side of them. Glennon, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost his starting job midway through the 2013 season to Josh McCown, then permanently was relegated to backup duty when Jamies Winston was picked first overall in 2014. 

Trubisky, too, was unable to beat out Marquise Williams for North Carolina’s starting quarterback job in 2014 and 2015, only taking over after the graduation of Williams, an undrafted free agent who didn’t stick on an NFL roster. Pace pointed to Williams having “chemistry” within the Tarheels’ offense, though, which powered North Carolina to an 11-win season in 2015. 

Pace said the Bears don’t have a timetable for when they expect Trubisky to take over as the team’s starter. But given Glennon’s contract is structured so the Bears could cut him for $2.5 million next year — bringing his guaranteed money to $18.5 million — there could be an opening for Trubisky as soon as 2018.

It’s worth noting, too, that it’s rare for quarterbacks in the same range as Trubisky to not play in their rookie years. The last quarterback drafted in the top 10 to not start a game their first year in the league was Tennessee’s Jake Locker (eighth overall) in 2011. And the last time a quarterback effectively was benched his entire rookie year was 2004, when fourth overall pick Philip Rivers appeared in two games and attempted eight passes for the San Diego Chargers.

But the Bears won’t plan on Trubisky taking playing time away from Glennon this fall, and feel they have an ideal situation set up to develop their highest draft pick since the AFL-NFL merger. 

“I talked to Mike tonight, he understands the competitiveness of our business at every single position,” Pace said. “Mike also understands he’s our starting quarterback. Mike’s been here working hard all the time, already developing leadership with his teammates. I’m extremely excited about Mike Glennon this season and I’m extremely excited about adding Mitch to our roster.”