One of the major questions from training camp has been answered: Taj Gibson will start Thursday’s opener against the Celtics.
Hoiberg said at the outset of camp that it’d be a competition for the spot between Gibson and Mirotic. And by any metric, Gibson was the one with better performance this preseason.
“I feel like I had a great preseason,” Gibson said. “But that was the goal from the time when I went to to work with Jimmy in the summer. Knowing that I wanted to sharpen my game up. I wanted to get better. We lost a lot of guys and a lot to prove. Every day is a chance to get better. I wanted to let my game do the talking for me instead of crying and complaining about what I should be given and how I should be given it. I wanted to go out there and just earn it. And have the respect of my teammates and having the young guys [watch] how I’m doing it and it’s gonna speak volumes for our team.”
It’s probably a dodged bullet that the Bulls coach didn’t just go with Mirotic regardless, as awarding Niko that spot last year was a spot of consternation with the locker room.
There’s of course a lineup construction issue of starting Taj along 4 other guys who aren’t long-distance shooters. But Mirotic was so poor, and then got hurt, that it really left Hoiberg with no choice. The inclusion of Taj will undoubtedly mean a better defensive lineup to start the game alongside Robin Lopez.
In other Bulls roster news...Niko, Denzel Valentine, and Cristiano Felicio are cleared for opening night.
Felicio also practiced. Bulls at full strength for opener? Not used to that.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 25, 2016