Joakim Noah has been the leader for this Bulls group for the last few years, helping carry the team in a variety of ways through all the terrible string of injuries, including his own. Any Bulls fan who has watched this team knows he has been the most vocal leader, and his energy kept the Bulls in the playoff hunt when they were outnumbered. I understand what Jimmy Butler meant when he said he wanted to lead, as he is similar in personality and has worked shoulder to shoulder with Noah through the bad times. Every team needs a wing to also take the lead in this league due to the many star players at the position. Rose is the quiet force, but he will bark at people on the court plenty if you have paid attention, and he usually runs the pre-game hype huddle. Noah is the big man barking defenses from the back line. There is room for and a need for Jimmy to become a vocal leader now that Noah is headed to the bench. In my opinion, this is the root of Jimmy’s “bold” statement. I think Fred Hoiberg let him know it would be needed with the plan set in motion for Noah to come off the bench and Jimmy’s natural emergence as a bad ass on the wing. The last couple years it has been obvious that Jimmy began to lead just by watching his behavior on and off the court. Plus, Rose is usually too quiet and literally smaller than most of the wing superstars in the NBA now, so it is almost essential to have Jimmy continue to battle and provide intimidation on the court. You can tell he is just as great as Noah talking that shhh to opponents, including a few confrontations.
This team has grown up along with Joakim Noah, and he is being asked to grow some more by not starting. He is now fully recovered from his knee surgery and has looked livelier so far. It is not difficult for me to picture Jo providing a lot more to this team this year than most expect considering his health, defense, passing abilities, and lower minute count. Jo and Taj Gibson should be able to extend leads taken by the starters as well as fill in the starting lineup when needed. Considering this is a contract year, it is something to consider watching Jo this year. As a starter, it would be easier for Jo to earn a better contract. Maybe Fred Hoiberg was encouraged to make the move starting Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic to make it more affordable to re-sign Noah in the offseason. Jo has given so much to da Bulls and the Chicago community that I can see him staying. This season he will lead the new revamped Bench Mob to much success, most importantly mentoring Crazy Eyes a.k.a Bobby Portis, the eventual long term starting center for da Bulls once Gasol is gone or joins Noah on the bench. He will leave his mark on this season, likely versus the mistake by the lake in the playoffs. How he handles his new role will help define this Bulls season.
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