Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls was named the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Monday.
An unlikely candidate for Most Valuable Player who has been the heart and soul of a Derrick Rose-less Bulls team throughout the campaign, Noah is the first Chicago player since Michael Jordan (1987-88) to win the prestigious award.
He’s also the first former Florida player to capture the honor and second ever to win an NBA year-end award, joining guard Mike Miller, who was named Rookie of the Year in 2000-01 and Sixth Man of the Year in 2005-06.
Noah dominated the vote, finishing first with 555 total points. Indiana C Roy Hibbert placed second with 166 points.
Noah has been tremendous all season for the Bulls, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.
He registered four triple-doubles and 47 double-doubles over 80 regular-season games, becoming the fourth center in NBA history with four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season (Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, Bill Russell). Noah is also the first Chicago player since Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four triple-doubles in a single season.
A 2012-13 NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, Noah will likely finish in the same spot when the team is announced later this year.
His ability not only defend the post but switch onto and lock down smaller players is a major reason why Chicago finished first in scoring defense and second in opponent’ field goal percentage this season. His energy, passion and resolve have also played roles in the Bulls’ ability to rally and earn a berth in the playoffs.
Noah notched single-game career-highs of 14 assists and 50 minutes played in separate games during the 2013-14 campaign and single-season career-highs in nearly every major statistical category. He finished fourth in the NBA in total rebounds and offensive rebounds, seventh in defensive rebounds, eighth in total efficiency points, 10th in blocks, 16th in minutes played and 22nd in assists.
Chicago is down 0-1 in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs after falling 102-93 to the Washington Wizards on Sunday. Noah was 4-for-6 with 10 points, 10 boards and four assists two days after missing practice while mourning the passing of a mentor and self-described “second father,” Tyrone Green.
Photo Credit: Associated Press