Daniel “Boobie” Gibson appeared on his way to the top in the 2007 playoffs, when he helped seal the Cavs’ first trip to the NBA Finals with a 31-point performance against Detroit in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
At the time, he looked like a future cornerstone of the franchise, but his path back to relevancy in the 2010-11 season has been a long one.
After a solid but not sensational 2007-08 campaign, he saw his minutes dwindle the following two seasons because coach Mike Brown—who valued defense above all else—saw him as a defensive liability. Frustration started to creep in for Gibson as he was used sparingly last season and often only in garbage time.
Furthermore his lack of run on the court gave him the reputation of being a one-dimensional player as a catch-and-shoot three-point specialist. Many around the league believed he didn’t have the ability to dribble and pass like a point guard and create his own shot—including his current head coach Byron Scott.
“I kept hearing about the things he couldn't do,” Scott was quoted as saying during training camp.
Scott was impressed with what he saw Gibson could do, and because of that Boobie is averaging a career high 28.2 minutes per game off the bench in the first five games of the season.
It has paid off—Gibson is averaging 14 points, 4 rebounds and nearly 5 assists on the young season.
On Friday night in Philadelphia, Gibson helped lead the Cavs back from an eight-point deficit by scoring 15 fourth-quarter points, including 10 in a row at one point. He finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Gibson has been a natural fit so far in Byron Scott’s up-tempo system. He is effective at leading the fast break and finding the open man. Gibson has continued to be a long-range threat, but he has shown the ability to drive to the basket as well and create his own shots.
Scott’s Princeton offense is all about player movement, and Gibson is good at finding ways to get open. His much-scrutinized defense seems to have improved and he’s averaging a steal per game, often because of his knack for stripping the ball away from unsuspecting big men under the hoop.
On a team where depth is one of the many issues that are lacking, it’s refreshing to see Boobie get the opportunity to prove that he’s a multi-dimensional player who can lead the bench bunch. With his performance so far, he will continue to earn crunch time minutes, too.
One other difference this season: there are no special designs shaved into Gibson’s head. What’s up with that, Boobie?