Fred Hoiberg‘s Chicago Bulls got off to an exciting, bullish start with a home win over the Cavaliers in front of President Obama and a sell-out crowd. The Bulls used a balanced scoring attack and high energy to snatch a victory, with five players in double figures led by Nikola Mirotic. Former starter and the Bulls’ (the league’s?) highest energy player Joakim Noah came off the bench, providing a jolt with hustle plays you don’t see often enough from big men.
The 6’11” Noah has been critical to the Bulls recent success, a coach’s dream who does all the intangibles. Against Cleveland, Noah played just 17 minutes and didn’t score (he didn’t shoot). Yet he had nine rebounds, four assists and a steal while on the court. That’s major impact, but difficult to measure. Six of the last seven NBA Sixth Man of the Year Awards have gone to guards, whose contributions are more easily distilled into points and assists. If Chicago wins the East and Noah averages four points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 28 minutes a night, can he win the Sixth Man of the Year Award?