Rudy Gobert is entering his 5th NBA season and is primed to take over as the face of the Utah Jazz. The French big man has shined as a defensive star and a complementary piece on offense, but this will be his first season as the best player on his team. He has been a defensive anchor, but there have been several misconceptions surrounding his offensive game and his overall value to the team. Leading us to the question, just how good is Rudy Gobert?
Let’s start with defense. While Draymond Green ended up winning the coveted defensive player of the year award, Gobert was a close second. Rudy led the league in blocks with 2.6 per game, and ranked 3rd in the NBA with a defensive rating of 99.2.
Numbers aside, Gobert has the length and the capability to lock down the paint in ways that few others can. He is such a presence that perimeter defenders can stay outside, trusting Rudy to cover for any mistakes they might make. This has ultimately led to the Jazz becoming an elite defensive team, largely thanks to Rudy Gobert.
Gobert’s defense is well understood and respected throughout the NBA. However most don’t know as much about his offensive game. He is often thought to have little to no offensive abilities because he is not a traditional back-to-the-basket big nor does he have any stretch in his game whatsoever.
Just because Gobert does not shoot the ball or operate with the rock in his hands does not mean he is not an effective member of an offensive unit. He simply excels in different, and less obvious ways.
Gobert is an excellent screen setting big, and is very effective in pick-and-roll situations. Playing alongside newly acquired pass-first point guard Ricky Rubio will likely result in an increase in production from Rudy on the offensive side of the ball. Rubio has averaged over 8 assists per game in each of the past 4 seasons, and with a pick-and-roll partner like Gobert, he could easily average double-digit assists this season.
In addition to being a premier pick-and-roll big, Gobert also knows when to put up shots and when not to. Last season Gobert shot 66.1% from the field, good for second in the league. Rudy can also boast an impressive 68.1% true shooting percentage, which was the best across the entire NBA.
Production matters, and it remains to be seen whether Gobert will take the next step as an offensive weapon and be successful with a larger load to carry. However, based on the fact that Gobert has continued to improve every season, and is one of the most efficient centers in the league, I have no reason to believe he will be anything but successful given a larger role.
In summary, Rudy Gobert is known to be among the best defenders in the NBA today, and his offensive game is on the rise. We know that Gobert does not need to operate with the ball in his hands or have a killer jump shot to be successful offensively. Though often overlooked because his offensive game lacks the flash of other high-caliber big men in the league, Rudy is still the cornerstone of the Utah franchise.
So to answer our original question, just how good is Rudy Gobert? He is extremely important and valuable to his team. After earning All-NBA second team honors this past season, we should have no reason to think he will not be back in the coming years, and improving his bid for a first team slot. All-Star games and All-NBA honors will come with time, as Gobert continues to establish himself as a top-tier center in the NBA.