Either NBA coaches have chosen Joakim Noah as one of the seven reserves on the 2014 Eastern Conference All-Star team, or the Chicago Bulls have a really strong hunch that their center will hear his name called when the 2014 All-Star reserves are announced on TNT on Thursday night.
Here's a copy of a video clip that briefly appeared on the Bulls' official YouTube channel on Tuesday evening, but was very quickly yanked:
Noah went to his first All-Star Game last season, so for the video to congratulate him on being a "2X NBA All-Star" ... well, you do the math. (It is 1 + 1. Show your work.)
While the video was likely either uploaded in error or made public prematurely — which is hopefully a crime not punished too severely — the 28-year-old Noah certainly merits consideration for a spot on the bench of Eastern Conference head coach Frank Vogel, whether one of the three specifically dedicated to frontcourt players or one of the two "wild card" openings. While his point totals rarely pop off the box score to grab your attention, Noah has continued to be a reliably stellar two-way contributor, joining Western Conference starter and Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love as the only two players in the league averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game this season.
With Derrick Rose sidelined for the season by another knee injury, stellar two-way wing (and longtime running buddy) Luol Deng now plying his trade for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Bulls' point guard situation an absolute horror show before scrap-heap pickup D.J. Augustin started showing out, Noah has borne a disproportionate burden in initiating Chicago's offense from the high post, picking out cutters and finding the slightest slivers of space in defender-packed paint; while the Bulls' offense has been dismal all season, ranking 28th among 30 NBA teams, it's staggered to a mark that would trail even the dead-last Milwaukee Bucks in the minutes that Noah's off the court. He's taking more free-throws per game than ever, averaging career-high assist marks and doing so while still acting as the centerpiece of Tom Thibodeau's second-best-in-the-NBA defense, and holding opponents to a 44.1 field-goal percentage at the rim (10th-best in the league among rotation-level bigs who defend at least five up-close shots a night, according to NBA.com's optical player tracking data).
He's been great, and a huge reason why Chicago has not only not buckled since losing Rose and trading Deng, but actually gone 10-4 in January to move to .500 on the season and rise to the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. If in fact Noah is named to his second straight All-Star Game on Thursday, you'd be hard-pressed to argue very much with his inclusion ... and now we (think we) know the Bulls will be ready to congratulate him with the push of a button.
Hat-tip to Beyond the Buzzer.
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