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Bulls player reviews: Joakim Noah

5/5/2014
The Bulls ran their offense through Joakim Noah, who also captured his first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Joakim Noah

2013-14 salary: $11,100,000 | Age: 29 | Season stats: 12.6 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 5.4 ast

Season recap: Noah enjoyed the best season of his professional career. He was a force on both ends of the floor and won the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award. After Derrick Rose went down with another knee injury and Luol Deng got traded to Cleveland in January, Noah was the player who rallied the rest of his teammates together and helped get them out of a collective rut. He became a de facto point guard for the Bulls as the offense ran through him on the high post. Noah became the unquestioned leader of a team that surprised many during the regular season.

Season highlight: Noah was solid throughout February-April, but it was a particular stretch in the first week of March in which he racked up two triple-doubles in four days that had the NBA shaking its collective head in awe.

Season lowlight: The playoff series against the Washington Wizards. Noah did not play well against Wizards big men Nene and Marcin Gortat and was hampered by a knee injury that ultimately required surgery. Noah never stopped playing hard, but he looked like he was out of gas.

Final grade: A.

Notes: Noah's popularity, which has grown each year, hit a new high this season. The ovation he got on a consistent basis at the United Center was always loud. He grew out of the "energy player" tag and into one of the best players in the league. Aside from the knee surgery, he stayed healthy all year and produced. the question is will he be able to do it again next year?

Quoteable: "I'm proud of that," Noah said in January of the Bulls' mindset after playing their first game since Deng was traded. "I'm proud of that. This team, we've been dealing with a lot of adversity over the years. But people know when they come and play Chicago, no matter if there's four guys on the court, we're going to go out there and we're going to go hard. We're going to give it everything we have. And I think that's something that people are proud of when you say, 'Chicago Bulls.' Whatever it is, you know you're in for a fight. I'm proud to be a part of that. It's always going to be like that."

What's next?: Noah had a minor procedure on his left knee last Friday, according to the Bulls. He is expected to rehab for 8-12 weeks. He said last month that he planned to take time off this summer as he gets his body back in order. He will not play for Team France in the World Cup of Basketball this summer.