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Taj Gibson might be Bulls’ best player in camp, Tom Thibodeau says

Oct 14, 2013, 12:20 PM EDT

Taj Gibson,  Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker

Derrick Rose will be the Bulls’ best player next season. In some order, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler and Carlos Boozer will follow.

Taj Gibson has a chance to join that secondary group.

In three preseason games, he’s averaging 17.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. Preseason games don’t mean much, but when that production backed by a strong scouting report from the coach, that bodes well.

Tom Thibodeau, via Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

‘‘You could make a case that Taj has been our best player in camp,’’ Thibodeau said.

‘‘[Last season] wasn’t up to his standards,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s playing with a lot of confidence now.’’

The Bulls bench lost a little luster last season, and Gibson taking a small step back contributed. He was still solid, but he wasn’t the Sixth Man of the Year candidate he was the year prior. If Gibson gets back on track, he could be a key piece toward a Chicago title run.

Gibson is an excellent defender, and you know Thibodeau appreciates that. The big man also scores well in the paint, though his offense hasn’t exactly been a huge asset. If he progresses on that end, he could mean a lot more than a key 2013-14 piece. He could be the catalyst for the Bulls moving Carlos Boozer, either via amnesty or trade.

Simply, the better Gibson is, the more flexibility Chicago has in the short and long term.

  1. cantonbound13 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    It must be a contract year. Amazing how these guys seem to step up their game during a contract year.

    • johngalt1783 - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Gibson’s contract runs through 2016-17.

      I have watched a couple of the Bulls preseason games and got to agree with Thibs on this. Gibson is playing extremely well. Gibson fell victim to the four year NCAA player meme and never has been given a legit chance to start in the NBA. He could start for a lot of NBA teams but is stuck behind over-priced Boozer whose contract no other team wants. So the Bulls have to start him when Gibson is a better two way player.

      • asimonetti88 - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        Although he was the age of a 4 year player, he actually declared after his junior season. But I think he fell victim to the age thing just as much as the 4 year player thing.

        He’s a great player and I had high hopes for him coming out of USC. I think the Bulls will be fine with him as the starting PF after they trade or release Boozer.

    • shytownric1 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Really? You do realize he signed a new extension last year, so, your comment is without merit and therefore idiotic.

    • philtration - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Amazing how guys seem to step up and run their mouth wiithout even taking a few seconds to look up a fact or two.

  2. ProBasketballPundit - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    By far the best defensive 5-man team in the league: Rose-Butler-Deng-Gibson-Noah. But being an elite defense isn’t enough to win a championship. They need a better offensive system. Maybe Thibs needs a good offensive minded assistant coach like how he was Doc Rivers’ defensive guy for the Celtics.

  3. jobber33 - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Just another athlete playing great in a contract year. Don’t make the call on how good he is until he gets his next contract.

    • shytownric1 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      Well, since he signed a new contract last year, I guess we can make a call on how good he is, can’t we? Next time you think you know what you are saying, think twice, because you don’t have a clue.

  4. agentdw - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    gibson isnt in a contract year, idk where u guys are getting that from. he signed a 4yr extension at the start of last yr, so this yr is the first of those 4yrs…..

  5. agentdw - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    and Da Bulls gave him that extension because they know what they got…an elite defender in the paint that hustles his ass off (which is a big theme with this team),and is getting to be more efficiant offensively the more playing time he gets, which he hasnt gotten as much cuz hes stuck behind Boozer and his albatross contract. this WILL be Boozers last yr in chicago, and gibson will be more than ready to take over as the starter

  6. gmsingh123 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    a) Taj isn’t a contract year, as has been said already. b) Thibs has a way of getting his guys to play balls to the wall. I even saw him get Boozer to play good defense once.

  7. maracineanu16 - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Taj already got his extension, so – don’t bother

  8. 2016olympics - Oct 14, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Taj’s defense comes to play every night…more confidence on offense is just an added bonus.

  9. saint1997 - Oct 15, 2013 at 3:43 AM

    Be interesting to see what Bulls could get for Booz, maybe Deng thrown in there as well. With Taj at the 4 and Jimmy at either the 2 or 3 they have flexibility

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