- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Nick Friedell looks at each player on the Chicago Bulls roster and how they fit in for the future.
2012-13 salary: $11,300,000 | Age: 28 | Season stats: 11.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg
Season recap: Noah spent the early part of the season playing about 40 minutes a night and worked his way into the first All-Star berth of his career. Without Derrick Rose on the floor, Noah elevated his game on several levels and played the role of leader more than ever. His year changed at the beginning of February when the plantar fasciitis in his foot crept up again and he had to miss three games. He tried to play through the injury, but admitted later that he probably shouldn't have been playing at the time. Noah gritted his way through the postseason on one foot -- delivering one of the best performances by a Bulls center of all time in Game 7 against Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Season highlight: The Game 7 performance against the Nets won't be soon forgotten. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots in 41 minutes to propel the Bulls to the second round.
Season lowlight: The last two months of the regular season were tough for the big man because of the injury but as far as a specific game, Noah would probably like to forget Game 5 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He scored just three points and had nine rebounds in 42 minutes.
Final grades: Regular season: B+ Postseason: B
Notes: Noah is in the midst of a team-friendly contract and has become one of the most popular athletes in the city. His teammates and coaches love his drive and his ability to will them emotionally. The problem for Noah is that he has dealt with a serious injury almost every season. He knows he must find a way to cure the plantar fasciitis that has plagued him recently or else it could derail his time in Chicago.
Quotes: "We're a team of fighters," Noah said after the Bulls' 95-92 loss in Game 6 to the Nets. "We keep getting punched in the face but we fight back. I'm proud of this team and we're going to go into a hostile environment in Brooklyn and we're going to win."
What's next?: Noah will spend the summer working with personal trainer Alex Perris as they continue to try and find ways to get his feet back in working order for next season. Noah proved to be in good shape for all the minutes he played, but he must find a way to make a mid-range jumper more consistently. He will have plenty of looks with Rose expected to be back on the floor -- he just has to take advantage of those chances.
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