Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is well on his way to a third Defensive Player of the Year trophy. Gobert and the DPOY are almost becoming synonymous at this point in his career. At the season’s end, Gobert will have three defensive player of the year trophies as well as a second and third-place finish in 2017 and 2020. Many people seem to think the DPOY award this season is still a race when in reality Gobert has lapped the field.
Rudy Gobert is the Best Defender in the NBA
Rudy Gobert’s Absurd Defensive Stats
The easiest way to see how elite Rudy Gobert’s defense is through the statistics. Gobert is way ahead in virtually every defensive stat you can find. He is second in blocks per game, first in defensive win shares, first in defensive rating, and first in defensive real plus-minus. There are so many defensive metrics that Gobert is at or near the top in that listing them all would be as exhausting as challenging the stifle tower at the rim.
#1 pick and roll defender by significant margin
#4 isolation defender
Defends 20 shots a night, most in NBA
Players shot 7% less than average on those shots, the highest rate in the NBA
Opponents shoot 40% when he is the closest defender
— David Locke (@DLocke09) April 24, 2021
Simply put, elite rim protection is the most important part of defense. People love the idea of players like Ben Simmons, switchable do it all defenders that you can put on the opponent’s best perimeter player but in reality, those are rarely the most effective.
Rudy Gobert’s Defensive Impact
Gobert has a real argument for being the most impactful regular season player in the NBA and that is mostly from the defensive end of the floor. The Jazz have the third-best defensive rating in the NBA, only a hair behind the Philadelphia 76ers. One could make the argument Gobert is the only all defensive caliber player on the Jazz while Philadelphia has Simmons and Joel Embiid. Despite this, the Jazz are still right there as a defensive team because Gobert is just that elite.
When Gobert is on the floor for Utah, the Jazz have a defensive rating of 104.30 which would be first in the league over a full season. When Gobert is off the court the Jazz defensive rating plummets to 114.94 which would rank 28th. That is an absurd jump from just one player. Rudy Gobert’s defense impact is almost unheard of in this era.
To sum up:
One metric (538 RAPTOR) has Gobert 20-21 as the best defensive season since at least 13-14.
Another (ESPN DRPM) rates his season as the second-best defensive campaign IN TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.
— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) April 23, 2021
DPOY is Gobert’s award to lose. You can keep pointing to his playoff failures but this is a regular-season award and should be treated as such and there is no better defender right now than no. 27 for Utah.
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