Shoot, Boobie, Shoot: Daniel Gibson's Resurgence
I know what you're thinking.
"How can someone have a 'resurgence' when they've never been relevant?"
This point is a fair, logical one, especially when applied to Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson.
Since being drafted by Cleveland in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft, Gibson's play has been an ever-increasing disappointment.
Coming into Cleveland as a rookie along with the hype-laden Shannon Brown (the Cavs' first-round pick in '06), Gibson was considered by many to be a steal of a selection and a potential gem in the Association.
As the 2006-'07 season began, Gibson received the lion's share of minutes compared to Brown, as the former Texas Longhorn went on to play in 60 games in his rookie campaign while logging an average of 16.5 minutes per contest.
On the other hand, Brown's situation baffled many Cleveland fans. The high-flying guard spent most of his first year on the pine watching Gibson. Brown saw action in only 23 contests during his rookie season.
Meanwhile, Gibson wasn't doing too much to warrant an athletic freak of Brown's stature to ride the bench as often as he did. Sure, Gibson nailed the occasional three and every now and then went off for a 3-for-4 performance from deep, but were the Cavs really getting more from him than they could from Brown?
Many thought pairing Brown with LeBron James would be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. That never materialized.
For whatever reasons, head coach Mike Brown saw something in Gibson that many didn't. As the year winded down, Gibson saw more and more playing time while Brown became lost in a Cleveland bench that included the likes of Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall.
Finally, Gibson's night came: Game Six of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.
The Cavs were coming off an absurd Game Five performance from James in the deathtrap that was the Palace of Auburn Hills. James absolutely exploded, carried Cleveland on his back, scored 29 of the Cavaliers' last 30 points (and the club's last 25 overall), and single-handedly beat the rival Pistons to give Cleveland a 3-2 series edge.
Game Six was a bit different. Playing in front of a wild crowd and smelling blood, the Cavs went on to rout Detroit to win their first Eastern Conference championship and complete a fairy tale trip (did anyone in their right mind expect them to make it past the Pistons?) to the NBA Finals.
The real story of the game, however, was the performance of Gibson. Taking a cue from James' legendary Game Five showing, Gibson went 5-for-5 from three-point country, scored 19 of his career-best 31 points in the fourth quarter, and helped the Cavs stomp Detroit in a 98-82 blowout.
From there, things began going downhill for the man they call "Boobie."
The next season ('07-'08) saw Gibson's three-point percentage rise and the sophomore compete in the Three-Point Shootout during All-Star weekend, but his overall play was incredibly inconsistent and declining.
The 2008-'09 season was even worse. Gibson's percentage from three dipped to 38 and his year was marred by nagging injuries and even more disappointing play.
This consistent inconsistency was one of the main reasons why the Cavs couldn't overcome the Orlando Magic in last year's playoffs. Orlando's bench, which included Cav-killers Mickael Pietrus and Anthony Johnson, embarrassingly outshined the likes of Gibson and Co.
As this season came into view during September, expectations were not very high for the former prince (a very short-lived title) of Cleveland. Going from being the city's one-night hero to just another name in the middle of a handful of reserves, Gibson's stock wasn't exactly soaring two months ago.
However, the '09-'10 slate (while still very young) has seen Gibson consistently playing great basketball. Not only is he shooting with marksman-like accuracy (52 percent) from three, his defense, off-ball movement, and overall hustling play are all helping give the Cavs the much needed spark from its bench and continual momentum throughout games.
Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry has even said that Gibson is the team's best defensive guard.
Gibson has stated that the lingering injuries to his ankles are no longer an issue. His performance this season is crucial to the Cavs' chances at making a run for the championship.
Again, it's still very early to be making any long-term assumptions, especially ones concerning a player with Gibson's past. In the meantime, however, if Gibson continues his steady play on offense and lockdown defense, there's only one thing for Cavs fans to say:
Shoot it, Boobie, shoot it.
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