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Taj Gibson to start opening night for the Bulls

all hands on dreck (hahahaha but seriously good for Taj)

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Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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.