Chicago Sun-Times

Joakim Noah gets defense honor; Luol Deng snubbed

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Joakim Noah is on the NBA All-Defensive second team announced Monday. Noah received three first-team votes. Narrowly missing the second team was Derrick Rose, who received four first-team votes. Luol Deng, who also had four first-team votes; Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer also received support.
The first team consists of Dwight Howard, Orlando; Rajon Rondo, Boston; LeBron James, Miami; Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers and Kevin Garnett, Boston. Joining Noah on the second team are Tony Allen, Memphis; Chris Paul, New Orleans, and Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia.

In a way, it's surprising that Noah and Rose received more support than Deng among the league's 30 head coaches, who voted for the teams. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau repeatedly had stumped for Deng for the NBA's All-Defensive team.
In another way, it's not surprising. With Rose deserving the spotlight as MVP, Carlos Boozer the high-priced free-agent signee and Noah the charismatic man-child, Deng often shapes up as the most under-appreciated Bull.
One of Deng's strengths is that while he generally guards small forwards, Thibs has not hesitated to put him on power forwards and shooting guards, even occasionally on point guards.
``I don't mind it,'' Deng said. ``I've played the longest at the four [power forward] that I've ever played. It's the most I've guarded the two guards. Sometimes [I've guarded] the one a little bit, but it's the three most of the time.''
Thibidodeau has never under-appreciated Deng, though.
``I always had a lot of respect for the way he played; I always though he was a complete player,'' Thibodeau said. ``What I didn't undersantd is how great a leader he is. And he can handle big minutes. We ask ask him to do everything, whether it's guarding a tough premier cover, score, rebound, play-make. He moves extremely well without the ball. He complements Derrrick and Carlos really well.''
Deng, in turn credits Thibodeau with helping make him a better defender.
``The main thing he helped me with is preparing for each player,'' Deng said. ``Before, I'd just go play the game. It's also about trusting your teammates and taking [opponents'] strength away.''

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This page contains a single entry by Herb Gould published on May 9, 2011 2:14 PM.

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