Rudy Gobert throws down a mammoth put-back in traffic
Late in the fourth quarter of a close game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert took a Donovan Mitchell miss and slammed it back with authority on the put-back.
Ever since the NBA GM survey came out, the Steiffel Tower has been playing with a focused rage. The survey says he’s neither a top four center nor a top three defender, but you couldn’t tell that from his play Tuesday night.
The Frenchman went off for 29 points, 13 rebounds and came away with a couple of blocks in the 105-99 Jazz victory. Sure, his best game of the preseason just came against the terrible Lakers defense, but that shouldn’t matter.
With the departure of Gordon Hayward from Utah, Gobert is now undoubtedly the man. While the 14 points per game he averaged last season doesn’t exactly leave jaws on the floor, don’t forget that when Hayward left, so did his 16 shots a night, and somebody is going to have to take them.
It’s not realistic to believe that the Jazz will give their star center an additional 16 shots a night, but it is in the realm of possibility that they’ll double the nearly 8 shots he took a game from this past year.
Gobert feels snubbed, and rightfully so. He’s probably the best interior defender in all the NBA and his presence in the paint alone forces teams to alter their game plan.
If the towering big man wishes to change the perception that surrounds his game and establish himself as not only a top center, but a premiere player, then this season is the time to do so. The opportunity is there, the team belongs to him and he’s got nothing to lose.