When Joakim Noah played, the Bulls defended like the NBA’s second-best team.
When Noah didn’t play… the Bulls defended like the NBA’s second-best team.
Noah, when accepting Defensive Player of the Year yesterday, was eager to share credit.
“This award is a team award,” Noah said, echoing many previous winners.
More than ever, it was true.
Since 2008 – as far back as NBA.com’s on/off data goes – no Defensive Player of the Year’s team allowed fewer points per possession without the winner on the court than the Bulls this season. Chicago’s defensive rating was a stout 98.0 with Noah on the bench (and 97.7 with him on the floor).
Here are the defensive ratings of the last seven Defensive Player of the Year’s teams with the winner on the court (red) and off the court (black):
Unsurprisingly, each team defended better with its Defensive Player of the Year. But the Bulls’ defense held up impressively well without him.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Noah shouldn’t be punished for playing for a good defensive coach and with good defensive teammates. He’s still worthy of the award.
But team success definitely factors into voting. Only one player outside a top-13 defensive team received votes (Anthony Davis on the 25th-ranked Pelicans), and only two top-10 teams had no players with votes (sixth-ranked Bobcats and ninth-ranked Raptors).
If Noah were the same defender but didn’t have a coach like Tom Thibodeau and teammates like Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, maybe the Bulls center wouldn’t have won the award. That’s not exactly fair, but as much as Noah deserves credit for an excellent defensive season, the Bulls deserve credit for positioning him to thrive.
Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.
The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.
The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.
Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.
Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.
Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.
“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”
The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.
Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.
LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.
Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?
Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.
LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.
To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.
It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.