Is it the hefty contract he signed? Is it the increased role he took on? Maybe it’s the fact that he is all that remains from last season’s bench mob. All we know for certain is that Taj Gibson is not the same player he was last year for the Chicago Bulls. He is still young and still ferocious and hungry for wins, but there is something that is stopping him from being great.
Gibson is averaging career statistical lows and seeing fewer minutes than he was last season. Why? It can’t be the coach; Tom Thibodeau expressed such confidence in Gibson during his career and especially when he signed his 4-year contract during the off season. So if it’s not the coach, then maybe it’s the team? Maybe. It’s very clear that the bench players this year are nowhere near the caliber that last year’s bench players were, but that shouldn’t impact a players ability to play, should it? Unfortunately it can. If Gibson struggles to find his rhythm with the other bench players than his stats may suffer
But there is one more option to consider: his role. I can’t even begin to imagine what goes on in a player’s mind but it’s not unlikely that Gibson views his contract as a sort of I-owe-you to the team. He gets to stay on the team while the rest of the bench mob was released or traded and given a new contract in exchange for tenacity and efficiency off of the bench. That type of pressure can weigh anyone down, let alone a young and promising athlete early in his career.
No matter the reasons, however, it is clear that Gibson is not performing well, and it has drawn the attention of fans and critics alike. Unfortunately for Gibson, fans and critics may not be the only ones noticing; it’s likely that his lack of performance has garnered attention from owners and front-office personnel as well.
I believe in Gibson. I liked what I saw from him last season, and I believe that if he can unearth whatever is troubling him and just focus on basketball that his style of play and numbers will increase.