A lot has changed for Daniel Gibson and the Cleveland Cavaliers over the last seven years.
As a rookie in the 2006-2007 season, Gibson played a huge role on a team that went to the NBA Finals, and Cavs fans were counting on him to help the Wine and Gold remain title contenders for years to come.
As the 2012-2013 season gets ready to begin, though, the 26-year-old is now one of the oldest players on the team and it’s not clear what his role will be.
Drafted in the second round out of Texas in 2006, the 6-2 guard made a name for himself in his first playoff run with Cleveland. The rookie memorably scored 31 points in Game 6 of the conference finals against the Detroit Pistons, pouring in 25 points in the second half, including a franchise playoff record 19 in the fourth quarter. Gibson hit 12 three-pointers in the conference finals, and then went on to average 10.8 points per game in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.
At the time, Gibson looked like a young hotshot guard who would be a key part of a Cavs team that would be a title contender for years to come.
During his six seasons in Cleveland, Gibson has started 74 games and scored an average of 8.2 points per game. He has been a key player on a team that has been a title contender, but has also been among the league’s worst teams.
Gibson has proven himself as a solid player and a very good three-point shooter. In fact, he actually has a higher career shooting percentage from behind the three-point line (41.6 percent), than his overall shooting percentage (40.9 percent).
Last season, though, Gibson only started 7 of the 35 games he played in, and he has been coming off of the bench in this year’s preseason, backing up the new young hotshot guards on the team.
In the last two drafts, the Cavs took point guard Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick in 2011 and then shooting guard Dion Waiters with the No. 4 overall pick in 2012.
In the off-season, the Cavs also picked up free agent guard/forward CJ Miles and traded for guard Jeremy Pargo. In addition, second-year player Donald Sloan returns after showing last year that he can be productive for the Cavs at guard.
That leaves Gibson battling for playing time with five other guards, and it will be interesting to see how he fits into the rotation.
It’s clear that the team wants to build around Irving and Waiters in the backcourt, but Gibson can still play an important role on the team if given the opportunity.
While he is one of the oldest players on the roster, Gibson is only 26 and has the capability to have plenty of big nights and big years ahead of him. During the Cavs’ preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, for example, Gibson scored 18 points off of the bench and shot 3 for 5 from behind the three-point line. He also was a perfect 7 for 7 from the free throw line.
He is capable of more of these nights, and he brings experience to a backcourt that is short in that area. He can produce for this team, and he can be an important part of helping this young squad mature and improve.
Cavs fans will watch closely to see how he helps the team rebuild this season, and they also hope they can one day seem him excel in the playoffs once again for the Wine and Gold.