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Noah and Deng ran a lot, Hinrich passed a lot, and other Bulls notes

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, the Hawks lost last night, meaning the Bulls can get the #5 seed and a date in Brooklyn if they win tonight.

Until then, just a few random bits, featuring ESPN's Tom Haberstroh giving out some unconventional awards based on data from SportVU and other sources.

We can learn that Joakim Noah has averaged the most distance ran in games this year.

Noah, who ranks 14th in minutes per game, ran a staggering 2.74 miles per game under the SportVU lens. No one has covered more distance than the high-energy center on a game-to-game basis -- and that includes Luol Deng, who leads the NBA in minutes per game with a 38.9 figure. Deng actually came in second with 2.68 miles run per game. Something tells me that Tom Thibodeau won't be satisfied until the top five consists of all Bulls players.

Noah finished second in Zach Lowe's DPOY ballot, saying he was neck and neck with his winner Marc Gasol until all the games Noah's missed lately (and I agree that such a thing matters for awards). That's right: in a related (but not causal! you can't prove this!) story, Joakim Noah is battling foot issues and may be on a minutes restriction in the playoffs. The inclusion of both Noah and Deng lends some thought to the possibility explored in this FanPost that ThibsBall isn't just heavy minutes, but a style of play that's particularly grueling. I wonder how Jimmy Butler has ranked in this based on the way he plays: the way he crashes the offensive glass makes me think he very likely is running a lot.

I mean, don't get me wrong: I wouldn't rather the Bulls played less hard. They'd be less good. But as we've talked about throughout the Thibs era there seems to be a balance that hasn't quite been achieved yet.

Also in that story is the knowledge that Kirk Hinrich leads the league in 'hockey assists' (pass that leads to the assist), which is both cool and kind of personally infuriating as it gives validation to all that damned 'Hinrich really sets the offense up' talk. But maybe there's something to it after all. Haberstroh notes that the top 3 in the category (Chris Paul and Mike Conley, not bad company) have very good passing big men (like Hinrich does) which could be a contributor to making the league lead in such a category.

Other stuff:

  • a really random rumor: the Bulls could be interested in Blazers guard Nolan Smith as a free agent this summer. Smith is likely not going to command more than the minimum, so maybe this is just evidence that the Bulls will be bargain-shopping this summer again as their previous solid work in that area (Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli) may be pricing themselves out and away.
  • One guy who isn't coming over this summer is Nikola Mirotic. Gar Forman explained why pretty plainly last week: to get out of the rookie scale (and since Mirotic was drafted so late in the first round, it's pretty meager) contract, he won't come over until summer 2014 when he's eligible to be signed using cap space or a cap exception. Here's a fanpost from someone who's been watching Mirotic in the Euroleague.