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NBA Rookie Report: Daniel Gibson

NBA Rookie Report: Daniel Gibson
Jan 08, 2007, 08:00 am
15.0 Minutes, 4.6 Points, 1.5 Rebounds, 0.8 Assists, 0.7 Turnovers, 0.2 Steals, 42% FG, 43% 3PT, 67% FT

While most second round picks are looking for an opportunity, Daniel Gibson came onto the Cavaliers roster looking at a guaranteed contract. In a lot of ways, Danny Ferry’s investment into Gibson has already paid off. Gibson has been far and away Cleveland’s most productive backup behind Larry Hughes.

Though he only played a total of 5 games in the month of November, things turned around quickly for Gibson. An injury to Larry Hughes forced Mike Brown to look to his bench players for a temporary starter. David Wesley got the first crack at the starting lineup because of his experience and ability to score, but quickly lost confidence because he wasn’t shooting well. Shannon Brown got the second opportunity, but suffered the same fate as Wesley. As a last resort, Mike Brown looked to Gibson who stepped into the starting lineup in only his 8th game as a 20 year old pro. Gibson started the next three games recording the following averages:

30.9 Minutes, 13.3 Points, 4.0 Rebounds, 1.7 Assists, 2.0 Turnovers, 0.7 Steals, 57% FG, 57% 3PT, 50% FT

Those are some pretty impressive numbers for a rookie that hadn’t really played much more than garbage minutes up until that point. Gibson’s debut as a starter against the Toronto Raptors on December 6th was especially memorable.

Gibson started the game matched up against another former Texas Longhorn point guard in TJ Ford. Showing no sign of hesitation early on, Gibson shot the ball on his first touch of the game off a skip pass with Ford closing in on him. This scenario would prove to be all too common throughout the course of the game. Gibson connected on three of his six attempts from three-point range and drew a foul on one attempt as well. His form looked extremely good, and he looked comfortable in the flow of the offense. Gibson was not only effective shooting the ball from the outside, but also proved to be a capable finisher at the rim.

On two occasions Gibson received the ball off of cuts to the basket and finished aptly around defensive pressure with reserve lay-ups. The highlight of Gibson’s night came on a play where he came off a screen, jump stopped, and finished with a left handed double pump lay-up over Chris Bosh. Gibson finished the game with 18 points on 6-12 shooting in addition to 5 rebounds and 2 assists, while holding Ford to only 8 points.

Gibson followed up that performance with two more solid outings before Larry Hughes returned to reclaim his spot in the starting lineup. While Gibson won’t be challenging Hughes for minutes in the near future, he did prove to be a legitimate option as a spot starter.

With Hughes back in the lineup, Gibson hasn’t been playing nearly as much, but he has been given the minutes David Wesley and Shannon Brown were sharing early in the season. Though his minutes have diminished, his confidence has not, which is an encouraging sign.

Gibson provides something that the Cavaliers have desperately needed for a long time: a young bench scorer who is reliable when left open. Damon Jones fills a similar role, but it is absolutely essential for the team to have additional shooters to compensate for Eric Snow’s lack of scoring at the starting point guard spot.

Gibson may be a capable shooter, but he is far from a finished product. For one, almost all of his scoring comes off of catch and shoot situations; he rarely pulls up off the dribble. In a similar sense, Gibson plays almost exclusively off the ball, seldom bringing the ball up the floor. This lack of opportunities at point guard accounts for his low assist and turnover counts. Both totals would be higher if he had been initiating the offense. The contracts of both Eric Snow and Damon Jones run through 2009, so Gibson may not be asked to do a whole lot more than what he is doing right now until then.

Gibson also needs some work on the defensive end. He is a solid defender, but he isn’t incredibly quick for a player his size. He works hard, and does an above average job of denying dribble penetration, but sometimes gets caught playing his man too far away from the basket. As time goes on, it would be a nice to see him develop some of the habits that have made Eric Snow such an effective defensive player. The best way for Gibson to earn more time in Mike Brown’s rotation right now is to become a more cerebral defender.

In the long run, Gibson could become a great compliment to LeBron James due to his outside stroke. However, he needs to show that he is capable of being a solid point guard, unless he’ll be permanently relegated to bench duty and spot starts. Gibson could turn out to be a great asset to the Cavaliers if he can become a more balanced player.

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