MVP chants might be a little over the top. But during the Bulls' recent surge, Joakim Noah has quickly jumped into consideration as one of the league's top players.
In the last 10 games, Noah has averaged 14 points, 11.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists. He piled up 20 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks in Sunday's overtime win against Miami.
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With so many high-profile performances, Noah seems to be a strong contender for defensive player of the year, first-team All-NBA, maybe even top five in the MVP voting.
On Monday, he claimed rising stardom means nothing to him.
"I don't like it. It's not what matters to me," Noah said at the Berto Center. "I try to live in the moment. We've got the Spurs tomorrow. Yesterday was a great win. There's a lot of basketball left."
Noah made a telling comment when asked about Tuesday's opponent, San Antonio's Tim Duncan.
"From what I hear, his work ethic is unbelievable," Noah said. "That's the reason why he is who he is. He's one of the best to ever do it in the post, and he does it in a lot of different ways. So, big respect."
After Monday's practice, Noah could be seen shooting and dribbling a medicine ball, working on his post moves, practicing free throws and shooting his trademark side-spinning jumpers.
Rose keeps working:
Also staying in the gym late Monday was Derrick Rose. He looked good shooting on his own. He shot jumpers, not set shots, and at times ran side to side before attempting a shot.
Obviously, he's making progress from the Nov. 25 surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. As usual, coach Tom Thibodeau threw a cautious blanket over all things Rose.
"Basically about the same. He's doing a little bit more, a little bit more running now," Thibodeau said. "He's still nowhere near ready to practice, but he's doing well. His spirit's strong. His body feels good. So keep concentrating on the rehab, be a great teammate, and that's what he's doing."
Waiting to exhale:
Joakim Noah, on having to face San Antonio two days after a big win over Miami:
"It's not easy. I think human nature would be to exhale a little bit," he said Monday. "The Spurs are playing great basketball. They're coming tomorrow, whether we like it or not, whether we exhaled or not.
"We've got to fight human nature and be ready for a big game tomorrow against a team that's going to come in hungry, because we beat them pretty good at their place (on Jan. 29)."