SAN ANTONIO -- Tom Thibodeau believes Joakim Noah is playing the best basketball of his career and thinks that the emotional leader of the Chicago Bulls should make the All-Star team when reserves are announced Friday night.
"I think he’s grown quite a bit," Thibodeau said before Wednesday's shootaround. "I think his playmaking has been incredible, but his defense has always been there. His rebounding has always been there, but he’s much more of a complete player now."
Thibodeau has said he doesn't like going out of his way to campaign for players, but he is confident that the Bulls center will make the cut.
"I think Jo’s performance speaks for itself," Thibodeau said. "He’s had a great season so far. I think he’s very deserving, and more importantly, it’s what he’s doing for our team. I think he’s been a great leader and he’s played great on both sides of the ball."
Noah, who still isn't feeling well and is a game-time decision for Wednesday's contest against the San Antonio Spurs, isn't sweating the announcement.
"Just one day at a time, man," Noah said. "Just taking it one day at a time. Just trying to stay focused, trying to get healthy and help this team."
While Noah is trying to stay out of the conversation, his teammates and coaches sing his praises on a daily basis. Veteran Kirk Hinrich knows how much Noah's game has grown from his rookie season.
"He's come a long ways," Hinrich said. "I was with him (when he was) a rookie. You knew the talent and the ability was there. He's just matured so much. The main thing about Jo is he brings it every night. He's an elite rebounder, an elite passer, which is rare for a guy his size.
"The things he does for us speaks volumes. So we all hope that he gets in. ... I'd be shocked (if he doesn't make it), but you feel like it's in the coaches' hands and they understand the game as good as anybody, so I'm confident he'll probably get in."
Thibodeau is proud of the fact that Noah has taken an even bigger leadership role, as well.
"I think he’s gotten comfortable," Thibodeau said. "The thing that I like right now, probably the biggest improvement, has been his quick decision-making. He’s not holding on to the ball and he’s making great reads. And I think that’s really helped our 3-point shooting, because he’s making quick decisions with the ball."
Noah enjoyed the All-Star experience last year in Houston, but he wants to remain focused on the task at hand.
"(I have) a lot of good memories," he said of last year's game. "But it’s not about that. I’m just focused on the moment right now. I’m just trying to get back healthy and not worry about last year. Not worry about what’s going to happen or not going to happen in a couple days. Just trying to be ready to play tonight."