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Oklahoma City Thunder player grade: Taj Gibson needs to be brought back

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Talented veteran power forward helped Thunder after being traded from Bulls

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Taj Jami Gibson

Contract Status: Gibson is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season. His four-year, $33 million deal expired at the end of the 2016-2017 season.

Player History:

  • Acquired: February 23, 2016 via trade with Chicago Bulls (OKC sent Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow to the Bulls in exchange for Gibson, Doug McDermott and an unprotected 2018 second round pick.)
  • College: University of Southern California
  • Age: 31
  • Years Pro: 7
  • NBA Debut: October 29, 2009
  • Position: Power Forward

2016-2017 Player Statistics (Between Bulls and Thunder):

  • Games Played: 78
  • Minutes Per Game: 25.5
  • Points Per Game: 10.8
  • Rebounds Per Game: 6.2
  • Assists Per Game: 0.9
  • Blocks Per Game: 0.8 (career-low)
  • Field Goal %: 51.7 percent
  • Three Point %: 23.1 percent
  • Free Throw %: 71.5 percent

Player Efficiency Rating: (15.1)

16/17 Pre-Trade/Post Trade Peformance:

Following the trade that sent Russell Westbrook’s best friend Cameron Payne to the Bulls, the Thunder received an impact player that they were not expecting in return. Taj Gibson showed up each and every night for the Thunder, proving he can still play at an elite level.

Gibson added to the Thunder’s great inside play, averaging 9.0 points per game in just 21.2 minutes on the floor. The trade was a steal for the Thunder, who added inside scoring ability to go along with another shooter for Westbrook to pass to. The Thunder should re-sign Gibson, following his impressive showing in the second-half of the season.

Regular Season Grade: B+

Gibson was the perfect addition for the Thunder, as they added to their strength and inside scoring ability. The Thunder could not have expected that Gibson play this well when he came over from the Bulls.

He not only added to their bench depth, he started 16 of the 23 games he played in following the trade.

The one downside was his effectiveness on the defensive end. He posted his career-low in defensive box plus/minus at 0.3. Gibson has been able to be an effective defensive players in his career, posting a 2.8 DBPM rating during the 2010-2011 season.

Gibson gets a solid grade purely on his ability to play above expectations following the trade. The Thunder should reward Gibson and sign him to a two/three-year deal this off-season.

Playoff Grade: B

Gibson surprised everyone with his performance in the first round of the playoffs for the Thunder. In the series against the Rockets, he averaged 9.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

His bright spot in the series was in game three, when Gibson scored 20 points on 10-13 shooting in only 29 minutes. He played well throughout the series, but his performance in game three was a big reason why they were able to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Future Expectations:

The Thunder need to seriously consider re-signing Gibson. He proved that at age 31, he still has the ability to show his presence on the floor. The key aspect to look at will be if the Thunder trade Enes Kanter. If they trade Kanter, Gibson should be re-signed to re-up the inside scoring ability that the team had last season.

Gibson showed he can not only still play, he can impact a team next season

At age 31, Gibson can still give a significant contribution to many teams. Westbrook and Gibson played well together when they were both on the floor. If the team wants to keep Westbrook in the future, they need to re-sign players that play well with him and that he enjoys playing with. Gibson should stay in Oklahoma City but only time will tell if he ends up back with the Thunder.