Taj Gibson on leadership role with Jimmy Butler injury
Joining the Minnesota Timberwolves in the off-season, Taj Gibson has been an ideal fit for his new team. Gibson is currently averaging 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest. He is also shooting 58 percent from the field. With his veteran leadership, the Timberwolves are currently ranked sixth in the tough Western Conference, placing them on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Timberwolves arguably hit their lowest point of the season when they lost their star small forward Jimmy Butler for the season against the Houston Rockets. Without Butler, the Timberwolves have now become vulnerable in a tense conference, where teams are roughly competing to make the postseason.
For Gibson, he has seen his fair share of adversity when he was a member of the Chicago Bulls with Jimmy Butler. In 2011, franchise superstar Derrick Rose tore his ACL and was out for the rest of the season. Seven years later, Gibson is now facing the implications of Butler’s injury. According to Britt Robson of the Athletic, Gibson feels bad for Butler but explains that he has to maintain his leadership role with the Timberwolves.
In this context, the timing of Butler’s injury is incredibly unfortunate (as if there was ever a good time for him to tear his meniscus). Gibson understands how the weight has shifted. “In my career, I have always been that carefree, always-pick-you-up teammate; if the coach is on you I am always going to stay late and help you out. But I am a veteran and doing it at a higher level now. Now guys are coming in and watching my every move. Watching how I am with Thibs. Watch if I’m taking breaks or taking time off during practice. Every time that you’re out there, somebody is watching you.”
Without Butler in the lineup, the Timberwolves are now in danger of falling out the Western Conference’s playoff picture entirely. Gibson knows that he has to step up and become a leader for this young Timberwolves team if they are going to have a shot of making the postseason this year.