"psst, Taj:...gimme...dat" (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
This is just a post to alert you to some fine work being done elsewhere in the NBA blogosphere. Aaron McGuire of the blog Gothic Ginobili is some kind of insane person who is profiling each NBA player.
In the past couple weeks he's touched on both of the Bulls power forwards, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. And like a lot of Bulls fans, myself included, it can't help but be partly due to a visceral reaction to both.
Here's a snip from McGuire on Taj:
Gibson has a relatively strong case as being the best defensive power forward in the game today. In 2011, he led all power forwards in Synergy defensive stats -- in 2012, he improved the best defense in the league's defensive rating by (this isn't a typo) 11 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court. Click on that. Scroll down to the on/off stats. Stare in awe, because it's ridiculous. With Gibson on the floor, the Bulls flat-out destroyed teams defensively, and while part of it is the Asik/Gibson effect, part of it is simply that Gibson is an incredibly good defensive player and pretty underheralded for all the things he does. And for those wondering where that effect was in the playoffs? Well, it was still there -- the problem was the offense falling apart without Rose, folks, not the defense. In any real way.
his outside shot is vastly overused by the Bulls, with Thibodeau's system forcing Gibson to spot up outside the paint far too often. This is bad for two reasons. First, he's simply not very good at it -- he shoots in the mid to low 30s from every range outside the immediate rim area (and an almost-there 3-9 foot percentage of 41%), which is pretty awful. This is made worse by the fact that almost 90% of the shots he takes from 10 feet and out are assisted -- these are plays that the Bulls are actually trying to run, and they simply aren't a very good use of Gibson's offensive skillset.
There is a ton more there, including how Taj's defense just looks like it's effective, and how his backstory makes him one of McGuire's favorite players. The bit about him being schemed to take so many jumpers is interesting, I wonder if that's the byproduct of the Bulls figuring they can use him like Boozer. And/or if it means Taj really does have to improve that part of his game (despite what Stacey King tells us, it's not 'automatic') in an increased role.
I suppose it'd be unfair of me to keep this in my back pocket -- I really don't like watching Boozer. People complain endlessly thatis the most "annoying" big man in the game, but I don't think people who say that have taken a close look at Carlos Boozer recently. Boozer is simply the whiniest man in the game today. He preens, screams, and screens with the abandon of a dirty player who virtually nobody realizes is dirty. Really. Lost in all the talk about Boozer's terrible defense is that he's terrible at defense despite being a somewhat dirty player, when he's locked in. He's got no qualms about ribbing his man, throwing an errant elbow when the refs aren't looking, or grabbing a jersey whenever he thinks he can get away with it. Somehow, despite often getting away with all of these things, he's still a horrible defender. It defies logic. Most bad defenders don't play dirty, they just play soft -- Boozer somehow manages to get away with dirty play and still be an absolutely abhorrent defender. Absolutely absurd. He flops a bit, too, but in the case of his flopping he usually does it so poorly that even the referees realize it. (Which is funny to watch, when it happens.)
Again, I'm kinda shortchanging it as there's so much more but I really want you to check out the whole thing.
Indeed, this will be a really interesting year for Taj Gibson and his positional 'battle' with Boozer. I haven't heard of any updates with a contract extension, and I'm not that optimistic it'll get done leading to a really high offer in restricted free agency. But one thing the Bulls could get as a benefit from the loss of Omer Asik is a lot more Gibson, meaning more of a chance to see if he's going to be the team's future starting PF, or at least the practical one if the Bulls want to reduce Boozer (I'm assuming no amnesty until 2014) to a slightly more utilized Keith Bogans to start games. Also, Boozer's probably due an injury or two this year anyway. I'm really not optimistic on Boozer's upcoming season, though that's probably best for a separate post.