Joakim Noah ascends list of Eastern Conference centers

Jonathan Daniel

Teammate Luol Deng thinks when it comes to centers, Noah is the beast of the East.

In the absence of the injured Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has taken on quite a large load to try and keep the Bulls competitive in the Eastern Conference. His efforts are noticed by his teammates, especially Luol Deng, who when asked if Noah was the best big man in the Eastern Conference supplied a simple, "Hell yeah."

Through 13 games, Noah is averaging a whopping 39.2 minutes per game, a good seven minutes per game more than his previous career high. This has led Noah to score a career high 13.4 points per game while taking 10.4 shots--another career high--per game.

His increased load has taken its toll, however. Noah is grabbing 9.7 rebounds per game, which while still a good number is his lowest rebound output in four seasons. He is also shooting a career low 47.4% from the field.

But his defensive presence is what gets him on the floor for so many minutes, as Noah now plays in much of the same fourth quarter he used to watch from the bench. Noah also is tallying career highs in blocks (2.2) and steals (1.5) per game.

Even with the impressive output, Noah wouldn't go as far as Deng about his place among Eastern Conference centers. "Am I the best center in the East? ... I don't know man, you tell me."

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