If we’re being honest, Taj Gibson hasn’t exactly lived up to the contract extension and pay raise he received last season. Actually, Gibson hasn’t even received his raise quite yet. That kicks in this season.
But if you watched Gibson’s performance with the Bulls in 2012-13, you may have noticed the 6-9 forward didn’t exactly look like the player we'd become accustomed to seeing in years prior. Sure his numbers were on par with what they’ve been throughout his career, but there seemed to be something missing from his game last year.
Taj Gibson was supposed to be the reason that amnestying Carlos Boozer would be an easy decision. But after uninspiring play last season, Boozer now looks more valuable than ever.
Gibson’s lack of production could be tied to the absence of Derrick Rose who creates opportunities for the other four players on the floor and inspires confidence in his teammates. However, with Rose out of the fold, the guys who had played with him in past seasons had to figure out how to play without him while he recovered from injury.
Gibson, unfortunately, never seemed to figure that part out and he looked as if he had actually regressed. So what happened?
Did he get comfortable knowing that he’d be financially set for the next four years? Outside of the obvious injuries last season, was there something else bothering him physically that went unreported? Or, can we just chalk up his 2012-13 campaign as nothing more than a bad season?
Whatever the case, more -- much more -- will be expected of Taj Gibson in 2013-14. The Bulls are very thin up front and Gibson will be expected to make more of an impact in all areas of his game this year.
The talent is certainly there, but so is the pressure on a guy expected to make $7.5 million this upcoming season. Here’s hoping Taj Gibson can make the best of both.