Throughout the 2013-14 NBA season, there has been a tug-of-war battle better Chicago Bulls forwards Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer over playing time. Boozer has been the team’s starter over the last few years, while Gibson has always been the Bulls’ sixth man. But with ability to clog the paint on defense, and adding a 15-foot jumper in his offensive game, Gibson will more than likely win the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
So far this season, Gibson is averaging a career best 13 points and close to seven rebounds per game. He also averages 1.4 blocks during 28 minutes of playing time. And all of this comes after only eight starts all season. Head coach Tom Thibideau has found it nearly impossible to sit Gibson during late game situations, which often times leads to a fourth quarter benching for Boozer.
Boozer, not happy about sitting on the bench during fourth quarters, spoke out publicly over his reduced role. However, almost all of his numbers are down from last season, and are increasingly low from his career averages as well. Boozer’s sinking offensive production has only highlighted his inabilities on defense. With Gibson proving he can produce on both ends, there has been less of a need for Boozer this season.
Gibson’s case for Sixth Man of the Year only escalated during a Jan. 20 road game with the Los Angeles Lakers. In the game, Gibson scored 12 points to go along with six rebounds and two blocks. However, it wasn’t his stats that everybody was raving about. Gibson’s buzzer-beating layup with .9 seconds on the clock gave the Bulls a 102-100 overtime victory over the Lakers. Gibson had arrived.
When the end of season NBA awards are handed out, Gibson will be named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year.