MILWAUKEE – Spending the first six-plus seasons of his career as a bench player has taught Taj Gibson one very important lesson: Don’t assume anything.
Especially when it comes to his current standing as now being a starter for the Bulls.
“No player should make that assumption,’’ Gibson said on Tuesday, when asked if he felt he’s done enough to now be an everyday starter in this league. “I just go out there and take it one day at a time. One day at a time. I can’t look forward to the future. I’ve just got to play my position and do my job, try and help my team win games. I’ve got to keep myself ready, improve as a player. Just keep doing my job.’’
It’s now been 19-straight starts for Gibson, ever since coach Fred Hoiberg was looking for more thrust to his offense and more pressure at the rim.
He gave Gibson the nod back on Dec. 9, and there’s no indication from Hoiberg that the Gibson experiment has a short shelf life.
Why should there be? While Gibson’s numbers haven’t jumped through the roof with the role change, the Bulls have had signature wins over the likes of the Clippers, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Indiana and Toronto twice.
Gibson, however, admitted that he’s still getting used to the game preparation from reserve to starter.
“Sometimes, but every game is a new test, especially right now with all the games coming up, a lot of back-to-backs,’’ Gibson said, when asked if he was still making the adjustment. “Every game is a new test, just got to keep moving forward, try to stay ready. Never know what can happen.’’
If Joakim Noah is traded, one teammate that would truly miss him would be rookie Bobby Portis.
Since as far back as the early days of training camp, Noah was one of the veteran players that took Portis underneath his wing, and the relationship has only grown from there.
“Just him being here every day, showing and guiding me through this, he’s been in the NBA for nine years now so he’s been through the wars,’’ Portis said. “He’s been through the ups and downs. He’s seen the trials and tribulations of the NBA.’’
Coincidentally, if Noah is in fact moved, a big reason why would be the emergence of Portis, as well as the idea of getting the forward/center more playing time. The Bulls are log-jammed in the frontcourt, with Noah, Portis, Gibson, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic all splitting playing time.
Derrick Rose’s assists remain down, while his turnovers have been up since he returned from injury last week. But all Hoiberg seems to be focused on with his guard is keeping Rose in attack mode.
“I think it starts with Derrick with his attack,’’ Hoiberg said. “If he can get into the paint, good things are going to happen. When he can get downhill and into the paint, generally good things happen.’’