Although Derrick Rose has been the major storyline of the Chicago Bulls this preseason, it has been Taj Gibson who has been Chicago’s best player. The Bulls have been dealing with some injuries this preseason as Joakim Noah has missed three games and Derrick Rose also sat out Saturday’s exhibition against the Washington Wizards. Despite Noah and Rose both missing games, the Bulls have found a way to maintain a perfect 3-0 record throughout the preseason.
With two of their All-Stars out on Saturday, the Bulls looked towards Taj Gibson to provide them with another strong performance. Gibson, who serves as Chicago’s backup power forward, has been on a tear this preseason. Entering Saturday’s game Gibson was averaging an impressive 16.5 points and nine rebounds per game. He picked up just where he left off on Saturday as he led the Bulls in points scored and was tied for most minutes played and rebounds recorded. In total Gibson logged 31 minutes putting up 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field along with eight rebounds. Gibson is one of the first Bulls to come off the bench night in and night out, and I expect for him to keep up his hot start throughout the course of the preseason.
Gibson was not the only member of Chicago’s bench to come up big on Saturday as Kirk Hinrich also played very well. With Derrick Rose out, Hinrich was moved into the starting lineup where he was able to hold his own against Washington’s John Wall. The veteran point guard finished the game with eight points, three assists, five rebounds, and one three-point field goal. However, it was his defense that stood out. Hinrich basically took John Wall out of the game. He held Wall to just three points on just 1-for-9 shooting.
Chicago’s bench has come up huge for them this entire preseason, which has played a large role in their hot start. The Bulls’ next game will be on Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons. If Gibson, Hinrich and the rest of the reserves can keep up their impressive level of play I expect to see the Bulls take down the Pistons in this divisional matchup.
Jon Keller is a writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkell2005.