Bulls Player Grades: Taj Gibson

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For four straight seasons, Taj Gibson has been the spirit of the Chicago Bulls personified. A “hard hat and lunch pail” guy, to quote the great Mr King (Stacey, of course). He fights hard for rebounds, he makes big plays off the bench, he plays great defense. And for at least the last two years, he’s been the guy we have all been putting in the back of our heads as the guy who will step into the starting lineup for Carlos Boozer, who we all are assuming will eventually be amnestied. And although we’ve seen him make exciting plays in flashes, Taj has yet to prove he has the consistency, particularly on offense, to take over that spot from Boozer – who is, if anything, a proven scorer. His season averages have leveled off. His playoff averages have dropped – although this year he was playing hurt. But his field goal percentage was down as well, and he didn’t have quite the spark this season that he did last. Is he starting to get wary of his bench role? Is this as good as he’ll be? I expected this season to be his break out, or at least a major step forward. The year he could prove that he was the future power forward for the Bulls for years to come. But Taj fell short. He looked like a guy who should playing in short stints, 20 minutes a game, off the bench. If that is all he ends up being, then that puts a lot more pressure on Boozer being the guy, or even Mirotic coming over. Taj is getting paid a lot of money to come off the bench and average 8 points and 6 rebounds. This year was a step back for him. And with him just signing a long term deal with the Bulls, he did not live up to the investment. Grade: C+

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