The Chicago Bulls have been a complete different team since the New Year begun. The Joakim Noah reign has officially taken over and everybody has hopped on his back and come along for the ride. This has been Thibs’ best year coaching and if this play continues he may wind up with his second Coach of the Year award.
Since January 1st, the Bulls have recorded an 19-8 record. Better than Indiana’s 18-8, Miami’s 16-7 mark, 17-10 in Toronto and has the best record in the whole Eastern Conference since that time. Chicago has had two separate 5 game winning streaks since January 1st, has won 7 out of there last 8 games. 9 of there 19 wins in this run the Bulls have had they’ve scored 100 points or more in. Prior to that, only 3 of there wins they scored 100 points, so that’s pretty significantly better than the 1st 2 months of the season. Not only have they improved offensively, but defensively, if you can believe they’ve gotten better they have. Since Jan 1st they’ve allowed an outstanding 91.8 points per game and that’s only .3 points behind the Memphis Grizzlies. They’ve mounted the 2nd best defensive team rating at 96.9
Now, to the players. Chicago has SIX players scoring 12-15 Points a night since this team has come together so greatly; Boozer, Noah, Gibson, Augustin, Butler and Dunleavy JR. Out of the 27 games since New Years, Joakim Noah has piled up 19 double-double’s while averaging a smooth 13.6 PPG, 13.2 RPG and 5.9 APG all while being the anchor for Chicago’s stellar defense. Speaking of that defense, Taj Gibson is someone worth noting who’s been not only a great offensive weapon for Chicago, but has stood out on the defensive end. His 97.8 defensive rating ranks in the top 10 in the entire league, along with his front-court mate Joakim who’s at an even 98. Not only have there defensive ratings been worth noting, but Joakim is 3rd in defensive win shares while Taj is 18th. And that’s in the entire NBA. They’ve both played themselves onto All-Defensive teams and the league should recognize such.
Losing Derrick to injury, again, and trading Luol hasn’t made life in Chicago Basketball land very easy. Losing a top 10 player in the league is always devastating to a team, along with a player that was with you since 2004 and is one of the better 2-way players the league has to offer. That being said, as frustrating as it has been at times, Thibs and the boys haven’t taken there foot off of the gas pedal all season long. Tank? There is no such thing in the land of the Thibs and there won’t be as long as he and Joakim still are part of the Bulls organization. DJ revitalizing his career in Chi-Town cannot go without being noted. He’s spelled Kirk since he’s gotten a contract and also played great in starts while Kirk was injured and missed time. ‘Derrick Jr’ has shot at 40/40/90 splits and has played the point guard position perfectly, as he is a complete change of pace from NationalTVKirk, as they call him.
The Bulls, as of today, sit in 4th in the Eastern Conference at 31-26. A top 4 matchup, would get them home court advantage the 1st round of the playoffs and the Bulls are 17-10 at the United Center thus far. The Bulls have notable wins since the New Year against the Raptors on the road, Suns twice, one home one away, home versus Warriors and at the Spurs. They’ve played against top notch competition and have won games, home and on the road. It may not be pretty all the time, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this years squad. Thibs for Coach of the Year ’14. But hey, Joakim Noah may deserve one or two MVP votes, shouldn’t he?