Chicago Bulls: Is Carlos Boozer or Taj Gibson the Long-Term Power Forward?
Boozer is the low-post player the Bulls have been desperate for since Elton Brand left.
Gibson might be equally important to the success of the Bulls. As arguably the best player in the "Bench Mob," he is a defensive asset who works hard on both ends of the court. He can even shoot the ball decently well. There were stretches this season when Gibson did not play well, but he did deal with losing several people close to him before the season.
With that being said, the Bulls won't be able to keep both on the roster for long. So who is the long-term starter? Who will the Bulls be teaming with Derrick Rose in three to five years?
The answer may surprise you.
The Case for Taj Gibson
Gibson is the consummate professional and could easily be the Bulls' power forward for the future. Everything he does seems to fit perfectly into what Tom Thibodeau preaches on offense and defense.
Gibson is also a decent enough scorer at the power forward spot. His hardworking ability translates into offensive boards and put-backs. While not the greatest shooter, Gibson can knock down open baseline shots and has range up to about the elbow.
Another key factor is how well he plays with Joakim Noah, the Bulls' long-term center (not Dwight Howard, sorry). Noah and Gibson play well together, arguably better than Noah and Boozer play together. Gibson and Noah could be the Bulls' frontcourt for a long time.
Also, Gibson is a pretty good locker room guy. There has never been any indicator he is not a hardworking, well-respected member of the Bulls. Since he won't stir up trouble and will work hard, Gibson will fit in with the Bulls' locker room for the long term.
The Case Against Taj Gibson
Even though Gibson is a key member of the Bulls, it's easy to make the case against him as the long-term solution for Chicago.
And unfortunately, I think the cons far outweigh the pros.
Gibson is not and will never be a consistent low-post threat. Derrick Rose will never be able to throw the ball down to him at the block, and sit back while Gibson breaks out a post move and scores.
That's strike one against Gibson.
Perhaps the biggest reason why Gibson won't be the long-term solution at the four is money. Gibson stayed in college longer than most pro players and is therefore "old" to be starting his third year in the league. When his rookie contract is up, Gibson will only have one big contract in his future.
Gibson will definitely feel loyalty to the Bulls, but he only has one big contract left in him after this current deal is up. He's going to think about his family, and in an effort to take care of them, he will take the biggest contract offer there is.
Some other team will well overpay for Gibson's ability, and the Bulls won't match a salary offer that is worth way too much. Gibson will bolt for greener pastures and won't be the option for the Bulls' future power forward.
The Case for Carlos Boozer
The case for Carlos Boozer is pretty obvious—he is a low-post scorer. Any championship team will need as many scoring threats as possible, and Boozer can definitely be a scoring option on a championship team.
It's pretty much guaranteed Derrick Rose can throw Boozer a pass and expect an assist in return. So why wouldn't he be the Bulls' long-term power forward?
The Case Against Carlos Boozer
The case against Boozer might be the easiest to make in this presentation. There are a myriad of issues for why he won't be the Bulls' long-term power forward.
The first is age. Boozer really isn't the youngest guy, and by the end of his contract, he will be in his mid-30's. Since I'm defining long-term power forward as the player starting alongside Derrick Rose in three or four years, Boozer in his 30's doesn't really fit the bill.
Along with his age, Boozer has never been the healthiest guy. He gets injured very frequently, and not just while playing basketball. The guy falls over a bag, and the Bulls don't have a starter at the four for months. That really isn't a guy the Bulls should be planning on being a cornerstone of their franchise for the future.
And don't forget his postseason production.
Boozer did not play well at all each round of the playoffs; he was a non-factor in pretty much every single game. Again, not really the characteristics of a future power forward and future cornerstone of the franchise.
But that's OK, because Boozer isn't the long-term starter at the position anyways.
Why Nikola Mirotic Is the Bulls' Future Starting Power Forward
The Bulls traded up in this year's draft to land a young European prospect who won't come over to the NBA for a couple years. And when he arrives, he will be the long-term starter at the position.
Mirotic easily could have been a top five pick in this year's draft had he been able to play in the NBA next season. Since it will take at least three years for him to arrive, he dropped, and the Bulls won out.
Mirotic is a big player who can shoot the lights out of the ball. The best comparison I can make is that he is a young cross between Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki. No guarantees he ever turns out as those two, but he certainly has the ability.
When Mirotic arrives, he will be around 23-24 years old. He has been playing professionally in Europe and will be experienced. With his shooting and scoring ability coupled with that experience, Mirotic can come in and score.
Take the recent FIBA Under 20 World Championship. While a key member for the eventual champion Spain, Mirotic lit up the scoreboard. He averaged 27 points and 10 rebounds a game, with his best game being a 37-point outing.
If Mirotic becomes the player he should be, there is no reason why he wouldn't be the Bulls' starting power forward. Boozer will be older, Gibson will be in another uniform and the Bulls won't have money to sign a free agent. And with Mirotic's scoring, he could easily be a high scoring four who, along with MVP Derrick Rose, leads Chicago to several championships.