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Bulls player reviews: Taj Gibson

5/7/2014
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Taj Gibson

2013-14 salary: $7,550,000 | Age: 28 | Season stats: 13.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG.

Season recap: Gibson enjoyed the best season of his professional career. He played his customary solid defense throughout, but it was his offense that was the difference. He was much more confident offensively and enjoyed going to work down on the blocks. Gibson repeatedly credited Bulls assistant coach Mike Wilhelm for spending extra hours with him in the gym and working on his game.

Season highlight: Gibson scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a Game 4 loss to the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. He was one of the only Bulls players who looked as if he were ready to play in the game.

Season lowlight: Gibson was ejected in a Nov. 21 game against the Denver Nuggets. It was a call with which he did not agree.

"I was not talking to the ref," Gibson said at the time. "I was just talking to Nate [Robinson]. But the ref, he just bugged out. Me and Nate was talking the whole game back and forth, but it was fun. It was good to see him. We were just joking around."

Final grade: A.

Notes: Gibson sprained his ankle at the end of Game 5 of the Wizards' series and had to be helped off the floor. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn't sound too concerned the injury would linger much into the summer.

Quotes: "We wouldn't be in this position right now if it wasn't for Taj," Joakim Noah said of Gibson in April. "His improvement from when he first came into the league to now is crazy. He's just somebody who really cares about winning -- more than anyone I've ever been around. So, he really wants to win and that's his main priority, and I think he deserves (the Sixth Man award). There's nobody that comes even close to what he brings to this team."

What's next? If the Bulls decide to amnesty the final year of Carlos Boozer's contract, there's a very good chance Gibson will open next season as their starting power forward. Gibson proved he can handle more minutes and would likely thrive in the new role if this past season is any indication. He must continue to work on his game in the summer, especially on offense, and take the next step in his progression.