The Knicks Pay the Price for Ignoring Taj Gibson

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bulls might not receive much recognition on the offensive end of the floor, but they have the third most efficient offense in the NBA. Part of the reason they aren’t viewed as an elite offensive team is because their efficiency is built on the “sneaky” strengths that get teams extra possessions.  The Bulls have the highest offensive rebounding rate and the 6th lowest turnover rate in the NBA.  Against the Knicks on Monday night, Taj Gibson helped seal the game in the fourth quarter by hitting the offensive boards and stealing those extra possessions.  Let’s take a look at how it happened.

The first play takes place as Kyle Korver comes off a screen for a three-pointer.   Because Steve Novak is a liability on defense, the Knicks have him guarding Gibson, who is not much of a threat from the outside or with the ball in his hands.  He is, however, a big threat on the glass.  Gibson’s offensive rebounding rate is well above the league average for power forwards, while Novak, who is not known for much beyond spot-up threes, displays the career defensive rebounding rate of a point guard.  Their skills are on full display here, as Gibson swims around Novak’s box-out and grabs the board.

On the next play, Gibson grabs his own missed shot.  Tyson Chandler simply doesn’t react quickly enough to get the board.  That second-jump-ability is part of what makes Gibson a great offensive rebounder.  As an aside, Novak does an admirable job boxing out Omer Asik under the hoop.  The Knicks could have used that last time.

On this play, Novak finds himself matched up with Derrick Rose.  Although nothing has happened yet, the entire Knicks defense has shifted to help Novak.  Spreading the floor with shooters and having a stretch four (like Steve Novak or Ryan Anderson, for instance) is in style across the league. Although Taj Gibson doesn’t command that sort of respect from the three point line, if teams leave Gibson alone, he has a free run at the rim when the shot goes up.  Tyson Chandler is completely committed to helping contain Rose, leaving Baron Davis to handle Asik and Gibson by himself.  As the shot is in the air, Gibson is already sprinting to the rim, and Chandler is in no position to control the boards.  Gibson grabs the rebound over Davis.  After these three offensive rebounds, the Knicks hadn’t touched the ball for over a minute.

Similar to the play above, Novak has yet again found himself guarding Derrick Rose.  This time, Jeremy Lin is stationed in the lane, dissuading a drive by Rose. After a pass to an open Jimmy Butler, the Knicks rotating defense leaves Lin to box out Gibson.  Here we see Gibson win another mismatch on the boards and draw a foul on Lin.

Gibson’s final offensive rebound comes off sheer hustle.  The play has completely broken down, leaving Derrick Rose to heave a desperation three against the shot clock.  Watch as Gibson fights around Lin’s attempted box-out and is the only player to jump for the rebound.

Not wanting to be left out, Jimmy Butler got in on the act and grabbed a couple offensive boards himself. Butler has shown himself to be a pretty good offensive rebounder for a guard, posting an offensive rebound rate equal to the average power forward.  Watch as Derrick Rose collapses the defense, forcing the Knicks to scramble to recover and leaving Butler with a free run at the rim.

The Bulls were able to effectively punish the Knicks defense for over-helping without the conventional floor-spacing players.  Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler took advantage of mismatches and space to give Chicago extra possessions to close the game.

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2 responses to “The Knicks Pay the Price for Ignoring Taj Gibson

  1. Novak didn’t do anything wrong in the first video. That’s a sharp rebound on a missed three off the front of the rim. Novak had good position and was boxing out. That was just unfortunate for him.

    Anyway, yeah. The moral of the story is: don’t overswitch on D, as the Knicks do on almost every play. It leads to mismatches, which lead to double teams, which lead to rebounding mismatches and/or poor positioning and late reactions on the boards.

  2. Yup, tough play to Novak for make, but you have to stick Novak on somebody and that’s the downside even when you don’t switch.

    And definitely switching with players who can’t guard multiple positions can lead to big trouble.

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