New York Knicks Big Man Adds a New Element to His Game

taj gibson new york knicks

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The phrase goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but New York Knicks center Taj Gibson is proving that wrong.

Thanks to injuries to both Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson, Gibson finds himself in the starting lineup at 36 years old, something the team likely didn’t envision when he resigned in the offseason for two years.

At this stage in his career, Gibson seemed like he’d be better served as a veteran leader who steps in the play for a few minutes here and there.

Surprisingly enough, he’s shown he still has a lot left in the tank, albeit in the preseason, but it’s still an impressive showing for the big man.

Coach Tom Thibodeau has liked what he’s seen, and has said that Gibson is progressing into his new role on the Knicks very nicely.


Gibson Looks Good

RJ Barrett

GettyRJ Barrett and Taj Gibson during Game Four of the New York Knicks first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks.

On Wednesday against the Pistons, Gibson turned back the clock and put up 21 points to go along with nine rebounds, looking like the dominate force he was in the paint earlier in his career with the Bulls.

The Knicks can’t expect him to continue doing that throughout the season, but it’s nice to see he can reach deep into his bag and pull those performances out still.

Even at his age, he knows he can always count on his defense.

“My preparation is always the same, he said via the New York Post. “I always bring energy in practice. I always do my fundamental stuff, so I’m always just ready. I know once I get on the court, my defense is always going to be there. I can always count on my defense.”

Nerlens Noel

GettyNerlens Noel dunks the ball during an April 20 game against the Charlotte Hornets.

Coach Thibodeau is also a big fan of his veteran center, and says that he’s improved his game in a few key areas.

“He’s a great veteran leader,” said Thibs. “It’s like having another assistant coach out there. He just knows everything. He doesn’t make mistakes, he plays hard. He can guard every position. His shooting, really he’s always been a pretty good shooter, from 15 to 17 [feet], but now he’s really comfortable shooting the 3. He’s put a lot of work into it.”

With the three pointer becoming so important in today’s NBA, it’s always impressive to see players add that weapon to their arsenal, especially somebody as deep into their career as Gibson is.

Also, having an extra coach in the form of a player is always a good thing, so the Knicks youngsters will be learning a lot from their veteran. Robinson is still coming into his own as a defensive force, and perhaps Gibson will give him the push he needs.

“It’s great having Taj around. It don’t get better than Taj, man,” Robinson said via the New York Post. “We actually talk a lot, more than we did last year. For him to come over and he’s still helping me out to this day — especially because of what I went through with the foot and hand, he’s kind of kept me focused, my mental, straight. Hey man, you gotta appreciate Taj.”


Centers Need to Stay Healthy

new york knicks mitchell robinson injury update

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Between Robinson, Gibson and Noel, the Knicks feature some prominent shot blockers. However, the plan is likely that Gibson will be spending most of his time mentoring the younger players while Robinson and Noel get the bulk of the minutes.

Unfortunately, both players haven’t been all that healthy in the preseason, and in the case of Robinson, he might not be ready for the start of the season. In the short term, Gibson can fill the void, but there’s no telling if the 36-year-old can keep this up over the course of the season.

READ NEXT: Knicks Waive Kemba’s Ex-Teammate in Favor of Summer Standout


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