There were many bright spots for the Chicago Bulls during the 2013-14 NBA season despite the loss of Derrick Rose to a torn right meniscus, and trading away team captain Luol Deng. D.J. Augustin, for example, was able to become the Bulls’ leading scorer after being outright waived by the Toronto Raptors. At the same time, Joakim Noah improved his passing skills and also won Defensive Player of the Year. But just as important to the team was the stellar play of Taj Gibson all season long.
By now, Gibson has to be used to getting overlooked by everyone. He was drafted late in the first round in the 2009 NBA draft (26th overall) after four solid years at USC, and wasn’t even the first rookie taken by the Bulls in that draft. James Johnson was taken ahead of Gibson at 16, and was thought to be the Bulls’ future small forward. Then, Gibson gets snubbed for the Sixth Man of the Year award this season even though he scored a career-high 13 points and six rebounds.
However, being overlooked might be a thing of the past for Gibson. With so much talk about the Bulls possibly amnestying or trading Carlos Boozer, Gibson might be called upon to finally start at power forward. He already took over fourth quarter playing time from Boozer throughout the season, and was relied upon to anchor the defense in the paint along with Noah. Bulls management is also so impressed by Gibson’s play that they have been reluctant to include his name in any trade offers.
Gibson’s improvement on both offense and defense makes him a valuable piece moving forward. And if the Bulls do somehow land Carmelo Anthony this offseason, Gibson could have an even bigger season playing alongside Noah, Anthony and possibly a healthy Derrick Rose. If he can stay in the Bulls’ starting lineup next season, no matter who he is playing with, an All-Star appearance is definitely a possibility for Gibson.
Gibson has improved nearly every year in the league, so expect him to continue to have another great season in the NBA next year as well.