Wisely, Joakim Noah won’t make the claim. But Chicago Bulls teammate Luol Deng has no problem stating his belief that Noah is currently the top big man in the East. From the Chicago Sun-Times: “Hell yeah,’ Luol Deng stated emphatically when asked if Joakim Noah was the best center in the Eastern Conference. It’s not just one teammate speaking out for another, either. There are numbers to back Deng’s assertion up. Noah will enter tonight’s rematch with Milwaukee sixth in scoring amongst centers in the Eastern Conference with 14 points per game, third in rebounding with 9.7 per game, first in assists with 4.1 per game, tied for third in steals with 1.33 per game, fourth in blocks with 2.08 per game, and maybe the one statistic Noah is most proud of, first in minutes played with 39.2 per game. That’s how Noah knows he’s arrived, because he’s actually on the court in fourth-quarter crunch-time for the Bulls. That wasn’t always the case, even going back to the past few seasons, whether it was foul trouble or simply not being sturdy enough defensively. This year? Noah has stayed in that late-game mix, along with Luol Deng, while head coach Tom Thibodeau has played with the other three spots, trying to find the right mix. [...] ‘I’m an energy guy at the end of the day, I take pride in that, and I think that people that know the game, appreciate my play,’ Noah said. ‘Those who don’t, I appreciate them, too. I just want to get better.’ So it comes back to the same simple question. ‘Am I the best center in the East? Am I the best center in the East?’ Noah said, as he thought out loud. ‘I don’t know man, you tell me.’”