Chicago Bulls: 3 Reasons Taj Gibson Deserves Expanded Role with Team Next Year

Hayden CoombsCorrespondent IIIJuly 14, 2011

Chicago Bulls: 3 Reasons Taj Gibson Deserves Expanded Role with Team Next Year

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    As a rookie, Taj Gibson worked and hustled his way into the Chicago Bulls' starting lineup. He went on to average nine points and 7.5 rebounds per game in about 27 minutes of action.

    This past year, because of the offseason signing of Carlos Boozer, Gibson humbly accepted a lesser role as his playing time diminished to almost 22 minutes per game.

    Despite receiving less time, Gibson continued to emerge as a vital piece of Chicago's success. By filling in for injuries and inconsistent play, Gibson provided a spark for Chicago as they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

    His strong play and defensive presence late in the season ignited some talk of Gibson deserving an expanded role for a team that appears to be on the brink of greatness.

Work Ethic

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    Anyone who has followed Taj Gibson's career knows that this is not the same kid who played at USC. Injuries plagued his college career, yet since he came into the league, his durability has hardly been an issue.

    Gibson has obviously put in countless hours in the gym, working on his game and transforming his body since he came into the league.

    Gibson knows he has a great opportunity to show what he can do, and I am confident that he will spend the lockout improving even further.

High Energy

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    The Bulls already have a high-energy post in Joakim Noah. But as Taj Gibson proved in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, you can never have too much energy.

    Even though Carlos Boozer is much more polished offensively, he isn't even in the same league as Gibson is in terms of energy and excitement.

    We already know that Carlos Boozer has peaked. I'm not suggesting that Gibson is or can be better than Boozer, all I'm saying is that we still don't know how good Gibson can become.

Defensive Presence

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    Carlos Boozer's defensive shortcomings have been well documented since his early days in Utah.

    Even though Chicago desperately needs someone to step up and ease the scoring load placed upon Derrick Rose's shoulders, one wonders if Boozer's superior offensive skills really outweigh what he gives up on the defensive end.

    Taj Gibson can confidently guard the center, power forward or small forward positions without giving up anything on offense.

The Verdict

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    Taj Gibson won't supplant Carlos Boozer in the starting lineup. Not this season, at least.

    But there is no doubting that he deserves more than 22 minutes per game.

    As Gibson continues to improve, his role should expand. If Chicago seriously shops Boozer's contract, Gibson would be instrumental in Chicago's continued success.

    Until that time comes, maybe his continual improvement can ignite a fire under Boozer that could help him return to All-Star form.