When last season ended for the Chicago Bulls it appeared it was all but decided that Taj Gibson would be the starter in the upcoming season, but with the addition of Pau Gasol, Gibson will find himself coming off the bench once again.
Gibson is coming off his best season to date, where he averaged 13.0 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field. Now, heading into his sixth NBA season, he will continue to play a vital role with the Bulls even if he isn’t a starter.
Gibson has been a model of consistency–playing in all 82 games last season where he provided high energy and high effort on a nightly basis. His post game and jumper was improved in his 2013-14 campaign and he nearly won Sixth Man of the Year–finishing second to Jamal Crawford. He really shined on the defensive end of the floor where he had a defensive rating of 100 and a defensive win share of 4.4.
His play has earned him the trust of Tom Thibodeau–as evidenced by Gibson closing out games when he played the entire fourth quarter over then-starter, Carlos Boozer. It doesn’t appear that Gibson’s role will change at all now that Gasol is part of the team, but how Thibodeau handles fourth quarter minutes will be something to watch for.
With his confidence up, he showed he can be a consistent scorer–often demanding the ball on the block. Gibson rose to the occasion in the playoffs where he averaged 18.2 points and shot 56 percent from the field. Although his mid-jumper was improved, he will need to get it up from 39 percent. Gibson will be an essential piece to the Bulls success this season. Look for him to continue to elevate his game just as he has done throughout his entire career.