Can Gibson continue efficient scoring for Chicago Bulls?
Taj Gibson probably won't lead the Bulls in scoring this season, but this preseason he stands as an example of what might be possible offensively.
Gibson is currently the Bulls' top scorer at 13.7 points per game and he has gotten there by shooting an efficient 71 percent. He seems to be blending with new teammates Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo quickly.
"You can see I'm playing the right way, just being patient," Gibson said Monday. "D-Wade, Rondo, Jimmy (Butler), they're looking for me. The things I've been doing, I've been doing for a while. Just having fun. The young guys are bringing a lot of life into the gym this year. The attitude has been great."
There's an ongoing debate about the best starter at power forward. Gibson is the best defender by a wide margin and he's capable of knocking down midrange jumpers.
But since Wade, Butler and Rondo are not strong 3-point shooters, Nikola Mirotic could get the job on opening night, simply because he has a better chance to spread the floor.
Gibson has never been one to complain about his role, but he talked Monday about how Wade's veteran presence and history of success has made everything easier on the offensive end.
"He really knows how to communicate to guys, and when he talks, people really listen," Gibson said. "He's a great teacher. He knows how to get guys the right shots, telling guys when to take those shots, get those looks.
"Even with Niko, when the shots weren't falling, he told him, 'Don't worry about it, I've missed millions of shots. Take your shots.' Those kind of players you need around you when you're in a slump or you want to win games."
Mirotic shot a combined 2-for-14 in the first two contests, then had a good night Saturday against Indiana. He drained 4 of 7 shots from 3-point range, finishing with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
The Bulls' preseason scoring total has grown from 91 to 108 to 121 points in the three games. Now they have time to work on things before hosting Cleveland on Friday.
"We added a couple new actions today," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We've kept it pretty simple these first few games. That was kind of the plan going into it, try to get good with our flow and then add some set plays. We threw a couple in there that we ran for Dwyane last game, a couple for Jimmy. And I liked what we saw out of it.
Hoiberg said rookie Denzel Valentine is making good progress on the sprained left ankle suffered last Monday against Milwaukee. The coach said Valentine did some straight-ahead running and spot shooting on Monday.
Tony Snell left Monday's practice with an ankle injury. The severity has yet to be determined. Rajon Rondo was back at practice after sitting out Saturday's game.
"He (Rondo) was just a little bit stiff (Saturday)," Hoiberg said. "It wasn't anything more than that. So we just decided to take a cautious route. He's fine."
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