The Chicago Bulls (24-16) have played impressively so far this season without superstar Derrick Rose. Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are a big reason why.
The question is who will be selected as the Bulls All-Star(s)?
Will multiple Bulls make the trip?
Ultimately, it will be up to the coaches around the league to decide via vote. Here’s each player’s case:
Carlos Boozer: 16.1 PPG – 48.2%FG, 71% FT, 10.0 RPG, 2.1 APG
Boozer has been on a tear as of late, claiming Eastern Conference player of the week on Monday after averaging 20.5 points on 51.4% shooting, 15.8 boards and 3.3 assists in a four game stretch. On the season he has averaged a double-double, and generally has been as steady as Morgan Freeman’s monotone pipes. Bulls fans are wondering where this kind of production has been over the past two seasons. Keeping things in the here and now, Boozer’s recent dominance has gained him league wide recognition. With 23 double-doubles on the season, good for third in the NBA, the Booze hound’s first All-Star appearance with Chicago and third overall stands as a real possibility.
Luol Deng: 17.4 PPG – 44.2% FG, 81.8% FT, 6.4 RPG, 3.0 APG
The 27-year old Deng has once again been Coach Thibodeau’s most relied upon, leading the NBA in minutes per game for the second year in a row with 39.8. Every night Lu chases the opposing team’s best wing player while the Bulls offense relies heavily on his mid range jumper and ability to get to the rim. The former Duke stand out risks being overlooked due to his consistently good though not spectacular style of play that lacks the flash of some of his more attention-seeking peers. His dependability and persistance is certainly not lost on his coach or the fans.
Joakim Noah: 12.2 PPG – 45.5% FG, 78.4% FT, 10.7 RPG, 4.0 APG, 2.1 BPG
The loss of talented backup center Omer Asik to Houston weakend the Bulls front court this summer, putting the onus on Noah to shoulder a much heavier workload. At 38.2 minutes per contest, Noah is 9th in the League, most for any center by a wide margin. The Florida Gator alum has responded to the challenge in a big way. Noah often helps facilitate the Bulls offensive sets, leading all NBA big men with 4.0 assists to go along with career highs in points per game and blocks. The intangibles he brings as a team captain and emotional leader though hard to quantify, are perhaps his greatest assets to the team.
Coach Tom Thibodeau has campaigned opened for his most heavily trusted player.
“Deng, certainly. To me, he’s shown he should almost be a lock, in my eyes, based on the way he’s played from the start of the season to the finish,” Thibodeau told CSN after the team’s morning shoot-around Friday. “I thought two years ago, Luol deserved to make and didn’t make it. Then, he ended up making it last year, so sometimes it takes some time to build up and to finally be recognized because people will tend to look at the entire season also.”
Thibs also weighed in on his front court’s All-Star prospects.
“I think Joakim started off great, sort of tailed off a little bit with the flu, but is picking it up again. Carlos has been steadily getting better from the start of the season, to where he’s playing great right now,” he said. “I think all three deserve consideration, but those things are so political. As I said, you can make a case for all of them and I think when you win it helps, and winning is the most important thing.”
Doc Rivers, whose opinion is an important one in the matter also weighed in.
“I think both of them deserve it, especially with their record,” Rivers said of Deng and Noah. “I’ll be surprised if both of them are not on it. Carlos (Boozer) is playing well but those two are the ones I have my focus on.”
Deng is looking for his second All-Star selection. Noah, his first.
“It’s the whole package, but I think (team record) should be a major one,” Rivers said. “I probably have, but it’s very difficult for me to vote for someone whose team isn’t doing very well.”
Garnett gave a ringing endorsement on two Bulls’ All-Star chances.
I don’t deserve to be an All-Star starter. Garnett told Sherrod Blakely. “You have other guys like Joakim Noah who deserve to be an All-Star starter.”
“Luol has always played top-notch.”
Any combination of two of the three Bulls makes sense so long as the combo includes Noah. To me, he’s the rock. If only one Bulls player gets the call it should be Noah. With no legitimate backup and Rose’s absence, a lot of the Bulls first half success hinged on whether the emotional big man answered the call. He has stepped up in a big way.
Who do you think should make the team?
News and Dunks: Speculation grew after TNT’s Marv Albert said “Luol Deng is headed to his 2nd straight All-Star game” during Monday night’s nationally televised Bulls-Lakers game. It is not known whether Marv simply slipped, or if the information had been leaked. Reserves will be officially announced Jan. 24.
Adam Jun covers the Chicago Bulls for Skyword, Inc. a search-driven media website
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