In his fourth season, Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson showed that hard work truly does pay off when he put together his best season in the NBA. Gibson averaged a career high 13 points per game while playing almost 29 minutes per game.
The league took notice as Gibson finished second for the Sixth Man of the Year award, and if the Bulls decide not to bring back Carlos Boozer, Gibson will be the starting four man for Chicago. With more minutes come more expectations, and for Gibson to exceed those expectations his game must continue to evolve.
Gibson will continue to refine his post game, but the best thing Gibson can do to help the Bulls offense is to increase his range out to the 3-point line. The Bulls are a competitive yet flawed roster considering the team does not have players that space the floor.
Joakim Noah does his best work from the high post in, and Jimmy Butler’s jump shot is just not consistent enough to force teams to respect him on the perimeter. Mike Dunleavy provides some floor spacing, but he is often the weak link on defense. The lack of space allows defenders to crowd the lane when Derrick Rose or any other Bulls guard drives to the basket.
Point guards need space to operate, especially in crunch time with the game on the line. That is why Ray Allen gets fourth quarter minutes for the Miami Heat. Danny Green’s range is the reason Tony Parker is able to dissect defenses in the pick-and-roll. Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes’ ability to stretch the floor lets Chris Paul be the floor general he is.
Serge Ibaka and Chris Bosh extended their range to allow players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James more space on the floor to dominate. Bill Laimbeer’s range helped Isiah Thomas propel the Detroit Pistons of the early 90s to consecutive championships.
Gibson must learn to knock down the 3-point shot consistently, especially if Butler does not improve his shot in the offseason. The entire team would benefit from Gibson’s added range, but is it something Tom Thibodeau will encourage this offseason?
Randall Hampton is a Chicago Bulls writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @who_is_randall