Rudy Gobert, the French Nightmare (mine), the Gobert Report, the Stifle Tower, has led his Utah Jazz to an 11 game win streak (7th time in franchise history) that only the other elites in the NBA have enjoyed this season. The Utah Jazz are not an unlikable team, in fact, they are indeed the Moonlight film you pull for at the Oscars.
Will they pull the upset in the West? The simple answer is, No. But in a year that saw their golden boy Gordon Heyward head to Boston, who could have imagined the emergence of Rudy?
Typically, French fives have been stereotyped as slow-footed, lethargic big-men, Yes, web-slinger Donovan Mitchell, who is performing in the Dunk Contest over the All-Star Weekend, has been a shot in the arm, the Jazz have kept the melody- Gobert h has been the constant in that rotation.
Gobert’s size certainly factors into his dominance—he can touch the backboard more than 27 inches above the rim—but many 7-foot behemoths walk the earth. It’s that he cares, deeply about defense and often to the point of anger. He views each opponent who slashes into his lane as a personal affront. “Some guys don’t have pride,” he says. “I do. Sometimes too much.”
Though his PPG and RPG have decreased (12.4 PPG from 14.0 and 9.9 to 9.8), he has filled the hole that was created with the Heyward trade. His hustle and play has valuated his team within an alto sax solo of being in of gaining a seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.
He’s one of the best pick and roll big men in the league. His presence opens up passing and shooting lanes because he’s such a threat. He’s a good finisher, and sets some of the best screens in the league. He gets to the line extremely well, which will be terrifying for teams if he can get his FT% to increase.
Gobert isn’t just a one-dimensional player, though. He’s become one of the league’s elite screen setters, creating countless Jazz drives to the hoop with his body.
While not a post player, he’s a threat rolling to the basket who draws perimeter defenders off the defensive three-point shooters. Offensively, he can catch and finish, sliding by with a swim move and a dunk.
He is, in a sense, like a shutdown cornerback, who might get a few interceptions but who is far more disruptive to offenses by rendering off-limits a great swath of the field—or, in Gobert’s case, the paint. Says Rudy, “I think it’s a really good analogy…Players may be going to the rim, but they’re more conscious of making adjustments to his length. That means taking harder shots.”