Bulls center Joakim Noah has been named the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year.
CSN Chicago and the Chicago Tribune first reported that Noah will win the award for the first time in his career, joining Michael Jordan (1988) as the only Bulls players to receive the honor. An official announcement is expected on Monday afternoon.
Noah received 555 total points in the voting, surpassing Pacers center Roy Hibbert (166), Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (121), Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (79) and Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (47) to take home the honor. The full voting tally is listed below. First-place votes were worth five points, second-place votes were worth three points and third place votes were worth one point.
The Bulls finished with the league's second-best defense, posting a 97.8 defensive efficiency rating despite trading away Luol Deng during the middle of the season. Noah was a centerpiece for Chicago on both sides of the ball, helping guide the Bulls to the East's No. 4 seed after franchise guard Derrick Rose was lost to a knee injury for the second straight season.
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The 29-year-old Noah -- a 2011 All-Defensive Second Team and a 2013 All-Defensive First Team selection -- finished as SI.com's top pick for Defensive Player of the Year, narrowly edging out Pacers center Roy Hibbert.
Lee Jenkins: Joakim Noah, BullsBallot: Noah, Roy Hibbert, Patrick BeverleyThis was Hibbert’s to lose in February, when he was protecting the rim for Indiana’s historically stingy defense. But the Pacers slipped in every area, while the Bulls surged, keyed by Noah’s back-line presence. Noah may not get along with Kevin Garnett, but he has become Garnett 2.0, barking commands and smothering pick-and-rolls. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is another strong candidate, but Beverley deserves recognition for giving the Rockets a defensive identity and irritating the league’s many superstar point guards.
Ben Golliver: Joakim Noah, Bulls
Ballot: Roy Hibbert, Tim Duncan
Noah vs. Hibbert is the Defensive Player of the Year’s version of Larry vs. Magic or Mantle vs. Mays. Stylistic considerations — Noah’s manic versatility vs. Hibbert’s statuesque traditionalism – frame the debate, but you can’t go wrong either way. Although Indiana’s defense barely edges Chicago’s as the league’s best, Noah has logged more than five minutes per game more than Hibbert, increasing his relative impact. No one fills the paint and contests shots at the rim better than Hibbert, but Noah has been a vastly superior rebounder, outperforms Hibbert in Defensive Real Plus-Minus and has had less help and more variables (Rose injury, Deng trade) to overcome.
Matt Dollinger: Joakim Noah, Bulls
Ballot: Noah, Andre Iguodala, Roy Hibbert
All three of my nominees anchored top-three units in defensive efficiency. Watching Noah play defense is like watching Rafael Nadal play tennis. His intensity and creativity make him a unique defender and his versatility makes him more valuable than Hibbert. Iguodala has brought a new mentality to Golden State and made the former run-and-gun specialists into a balanced playoff team.
Lee Jenkins recently profiled Noah for Sports Illustrated, noting the all-around improvement in his game.
Yes, Noah still treats every trip downcourt like a 30-yard suicide and every loose ball like a treasured African artifact. Blue-collar defense -- hard shows and crisp rotations -- used to define him. But there is increased artistry to what he does, turning rebounds into rollicking fast breaks and passing from the high post as if he's picking out slot receivers at Soldier Field. There is music. He can't pretend to be just a grinder anymore. Like it or not, he's a performer.
Noah played a career-high 2,820 minutes this season, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals and earning selection to his second All-Star Game. His net rating of +3.9 was among the best in Chicago's rotation.
Here's the full voting tally.