At the heart of the Bulls’ toughness is Joakim Noah, whose game has grown, slowly but surely, to match his bravado. He may put sidespin on his shot and look like a tornado of elbows and knees running down the court, but this season, he has reached new heights. He has been called the best center in the Eastern Conference, and he could play in his first All-Star Game next month.
His statistics back the claims. Noah is averaging career highs in points (12.3), assists (4.1), blocks (2.1) and minutes (38.1). He leads all centers in the N.B.A. in assists and minutes. He has 17 double-doubles in 35 games, and he has helped the Bulls to a 21-15 record, one and a half games behind first-place Indiana in the Central Division.