Although ranking the top 30 NBA players in today’s game is an incredibly difficult task, The Last Word on Pro Basketball staff has taken it on. Debuting at number 28 in the countdown is Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
After being drafted 27th overall out of France by the Denver Nuggets in 2013, Gobert was part of a draft-night trade that would send him to the Utah Jazz. Gobert started the season with the NBA G-League’s Bakersfield Jam but would quickly find himself called up to join the Jazz.
Since joining the team he has been a defensive stalwart in the league. His play on that end of the floor is what earned him one of the more interesting NBA nicknames, the Stifle Tower.
Over his seven-year career, Gobert is averaging 11.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, and shooting 64 percent per game.
Gobert has been one of the best defensive players in the league since he first joined the Jazz. Gobert’s 7’1″ frame, combined with his overall athletic ability, allows him to smoothly transition from one side of the floor to the other. The athleticism also lends itself well to defending in today’s pick-and-roll heavy NBA. Gobert usually has no problem hedging on a screen to get his teammate more time to recover, or even making the switch and defending a guard.
Most centers in the league have had trouble adapting to the small-ball game the NBA has turned into, but Gobert seems to be one of the outliers at this point.
On the offensive end of the floor, Gobert knows his role. He will never try to do too much offensively and shoots extremely well on the shots he does take. He also shoots 63 percent from the free-throw line, which is acceptable for a true center in today’s game.
When you look at Gobert’s game as a whole, the biggest room for improvement is in his offensive game. Particularly, Gobert is not able to stretch the floor and take his defender away from the paint unless doing so in a pick-and-roll situation. If he is looking for a more robust role offensively he will need to improve his shooting in the future.
The other weakness has popped up recently. In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, it as announced the Gobert had tested positive for the disease. It later came out that he had been rather cavalier in regards to not spreading germs to his teammates or even the media. It has yet to be seen how Gobert will be welcomed back into the Utah locker room this season and beyond, but there is belief that there will be some lasting tension among his teammates.
Gobert has been honored by the NBA for his defense on several occasions over the course of the last few seasons.
He has been the recipient of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Defensive Player of the Year award and was arguably on pace to complete the three-peat before the premature halt to this season. With his win last season, Gobert became only the tenth player to win the award more than once, and if he was to win another during his career, he would join only Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo, and Dwight Howard as players who have won the award three or more times.
Gobert was also voted to his first All-Star game in 2019-20 and has been named to All-NBA teams in both 2016-17 and 2018-19. He was almost assuredly going to make one of those teams again this season.
We believe in full transparency in the top 30 NBA player rankings so we are going to disclose the ballots of our player rankings and where each contributor had each player ranked.
Tyler Marling – Site Manager – 14
Chase Gage – Managing Editor – NR
David Knight – Marketing Manager – NR
Zack Kircher – Associate Editor – NR
Matthew Waldman – Associate Editor – NR
David Ward – Author – NR
Avinash Chauhan – Contributor – 28
Adam Zigner – Contributor – NR
Albert Dadson – Contributor – 15
Dylan Guest – Contributor – 28
Raheem Bashir – Contributor – 27
Nathan Levine – Contributor – NR
Bill Huan – Contributor – 25