It’s team first for Rudy Gobert
In the category of players who are better than their numbers indicate, we present for your consideration Rudy Gobert.
Indeed, in their French-born center, the Utah Jazz have a big man widely acknowledged as a defensive force, twice winning Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaging over 14 rebounds per game this season, while also putting up respectable though not spectacular scoring numbers (almost 15 points per game). But talk to anyone associated with the Jazz and they will tell you he’s their most important offensive player.
For starters, he is an excellent screener whose wide body forces opposing defenders to go an extra distance to get around him. He’s also an expert at avoiding offensive fouls and not getting pushed around under the boards. And as an offensive rebounder, he is among the league’s best – an asset that leads to a significant number of unassisted baskets in the form of putbacks.
He’s also a cerebral player, the type who studies the tendencies of opposing players and teammates so he can be as precise as possible with the timing, location and angle of his screens. In short, this is a player who is all about making his teammates better – and, of course, winning, attributes that don’t show up in a box score or stats line but that coaches and teammates love.
Gobert and the Jazz can be seen in action Wednesday, Feb. 5, when they play host to their Northwest Division rivals the Denver Nuggets in a game airing on ESPN.
Full name: Rudy Gobert-Bourgarel
Birth date: June 26, 1992
Birthplace: Saint-Quentin, France
Height/weight: 7 feet, 1 inch/258 pounds
Teams: Utah Jazz (2013-present)
Draft: Selected in the first round (27th overall) by the Denver Nuggets in 2013 and traded on draft night to the Jazz
Honors and achievements: NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2018, 2019); All-NBA Second Team (2017); All-NBA Third Team (2019); three-time NBA All-Defensive Team (2017-19); NBA blocks leader (2017)
Nickname: “The Stifle Tower,” for his French heritage and his 7-feet-8-1/2-inch wingspan