For the last nine years it was painfully obvious that Luol Deng was one of the most under-appreciated players, not only by Chicago Bulls’ fans, but fans of the NBA and the game of basketball. All Deng did for the last 9 years was consistently give the Bulls a scoring threat at the small forward position, guard the other team’s best offensive player, and play extended minutes when it was required. Now that Deng is gone, most people assumed that Jimmy Butler would be the top candidate to fill Deng’s shoes, but without a doubt the man that seems to be up for the task is Taj Gibson.
Gibson had already been quietly having a fantastic season even before Deng got shipped off to Cleveland. In Deng’s absence, his play has been even more impressive, so impressive in fact that some people are wondering whether or not head coach Tom Thibodeau will officially make him the starting power forward over Carlos Boozer.
Just to make things clear the point of this article is not to rip on Carlos Boozer, but rather praise Gibson for his recently stellar play.
In the past the main difference between Boozer and Gibson was that Boozer had a very defined offensive game containing a silky smooth mid-range jumper and a variety of post moves. In the past Gibson would mainly rely on his offensive rebounding and outstanding athletic ability for most of his scoring. Now that Gibson has added a dangerous mid-range jumper to his arsenal it is becoming painfully clear that he is an overall superior player to Boozer.
Since they became teammates at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season there has been absolutely no doubt that Gibson is a much better defensive option than Boozer. Over the last four seasons, Bulls fans have become very accustomed to watching Thibodeau play Gibson down the stretch in close games. This is a trend that should definitely continue even if Gibson becomes the starter, but the reason this is mentioned is to demonstrate that Thibodeau has always had the uttermost confidence in Gibon’s ability.
Statistically, Boozer still has the edge over Gibson in almost every category except for shooting percentage and blocks per game. This can be easily attributed to the fact that Boozer is still playing more minutes than Gibson but the point remains that the gap between the two players has become so narrow that they are almost interchangeable. I would, however, like to point out that the fact that Gibson actually shoots a better percentage from the floor than Boozer, making it even more obvious that he is quickly becoming the superior player.
No matter which player ends up getting more playing time, the point still remains that the Bulls have three supremely talented big men in Gibson, Boozer, and Joakim Noah. This is a luxury that not too many other teams in the NBA can say that they have and one that I believe Chicago Bulls fans are starting to take for granted.
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