This is a very important year for Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson. He’s been on the cusp of taking that next level of being a starter for the Bulls. He has shown flashes, but not consistency. Now it’s time for him to put it all together, and it starts in the 2013 regular season.
Gibson went into last season with high expectations. This was supposed to be another step of progression, but it was more of inconsistent play. Right after the first game of last season, Gibson and the Bulls agreed on a four-year, $38 million dollar contract extension. The timing on this extension put more pressure on Gibson to produce.
The first few months of the season, Gibson struggled. He couldn’t find his jump shot, wasn’t playing with the energy we are accustomed to, and was fouling at a rapid pace. These struggles could have stemmed from the contract extension, but by late December, Gibson found his groove. He played with passion, energy and hustle; he found that urge to play his stifling defense again. He ended the year as the player the Bulls had confidence in to give an extension. Even though his numbers across the board were similar to his 2012 season, Gibson showed some improvement at the end of the season.
Coach Tom Thibodeau still has the utmost confidence in Gibson, even when he isn’t playing his best. Thibodeau still relies on Gibson at the end of games instead of starting forward Carlos Boozer, because of his defensive activity. He will defend small forwards, power forwards and even centers. The Bulls are just a better defensive team when Gibson is in the lineup, more than when Boozer is in.
The offensive side of the ball is where Gibson will have to improve; that’s where Boozer has the advantage over Gibson. Gibson is no slouch offensively, but he has a ways to go. His jump shot is spotty at best, and he needs more work on his post moves. He does have some moves in the post, however, like the jump hook and a turn around jumper. His biggest weapon on offense is that he will finish at the rim strong; he is very aggressive attacking the basket with vicious dunks.
Now that Gibson has his extension, it’s time for him to really improve in his fifth season. Some fans and critics might say he was overpaid for a bench player, but he brings so many intangibles to the Bulls: hustle, defense, rebounding and physicality. The Bulls will be championship contenders next season, and I like their chances with a healthy and motivated Taj Gibson.