It's time to kick off this week with the next entry to my top 10 countdown of Jazz players for next season. In case you missed it here are the players who've made the top 10 so far:
#9. Trevor Booker (Click here for his article)
As we work our way up the list, we have finally reached the French Freak, the Stifle Tower, our promising and developing big blocking specialist.....
#7. Rudy Gobert, 2nd Season, 22 years old, 7'1" (or 7'2" depending on who you ask), 240 pounds, C
Picture Source: img.deseretnews.com
434 minutes......434 minutes.........434 minutes!
That is how many career NBA minutes Rudy Gobert has so far yet he still seems to instill hope in many of us Jazz fans as a legitimate backup big man (and who knows, maybe even a starter someday).
Any of you know who Miroslav Raduljica is? Anyone? He was just 1 of the 347 players who played more than Rudy Gobert last season, this pegs Rudy as being about a 12th man in the NBA. I don't know about you, but I'm fairly confident we're going to see his role take a leap this season.
I may be higher on the big man on our team than others, but so long that Gobert secures himself minutes on our team, we are going to see big things from him, enough to be 1 of the biggest factors off our bench next year at least.
Anyways, to bring it back a little bit, going into the draft Gobert was being highlighted as a prospect with absurd measurements (including his 9'7" standing reach combined with his 29" max vert ). Because of his body measurements, he was a natural for rebounds and blocks as well as defense.
He played for French club Cholet, and averaged 8.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, in 22.7 minutes, and 74% shooting (70% for free throws).
His undeveloped offensive game as well as being a 21 year old rookie led to his draft stock slipping all the way down to where he got picked in the late first round with the 27th pick in a weak draft.
In his rookie season, he played (as noted earlier) hardly any minutes. He only averaged 9.6 minutes per game in 45 games and had paltry per game stats because of this.
Here are his per 36 minutes stats from last year to paint his potential a little better:
Anyone know how many blocks per game the league leader in blocks averaged last season? ... 2.8 (Anthony Davis in 35.2 MPG)
Gobert has the potential to be the league leader in blocks.
Let's also look at the leagues top rebounders last season:
DeAndre Jordan: 13.6 Rebs in 35.0 MPG
Andre Drummond: 13.2 Rebs in 32.3 MPG
Kevin Love: 12.5 Rebs in 36.3 MPG.
That's right, if Gobert could maintain his output from last season for a full 36 minutes per game, he would be on track to be the league's top blocker and top 3 rebounder.
The list for elite rebounders and blockers in the league is pretty short. Here is everyone who has been a top 5 player in rebounds and blocks per game in the same season this millenium:
Not too shabby of company to be with for a fringe first round pick, I'm curious how much of his output he can maintain with more playing time.
What is going to limit Gobert's playing time will surprisingly not be fouls as it commonly is for defensively focused players (still under 5 fouls per 36 minutes), but rather it will be his lack of offensive skills outside of dunks.
His free throw percentage was a poor 49.2 % last season. However, his percentage on his French club was 70%, perfectly acceptable for a big man.
I can definitely see Gobert being able to develop to be our team's future DeAndre Jordan, who also has free throw issues (42.5 % career average), but specializes well enough in rebounds, blocks, and dunks for it to be too big of an issue.
If Gobert develops a nice hook shot to give himself 1 other offensive move besides dunks/layups then I can see him becoming lethal on offense as well, but this probably won't happen soon but hopefully someday.
What to Expect This Season:
Gobert needs to show Coach Quin that he deserves the backup center minutes for the team; this is critical for his development on his way as potentially, a top defensive big man in the league.
Trevor Booker's signing is what makes me a little wary as he may become a hindrance to this happening. If Quin decides to pull something similar to our previous coach and decide that both Favors and Kanter can only play center such that Booker starts next to 1 of them with the other coming off the bench as center, then this pushes Gobert to 3rd string center once again and hinders him from receiving proper developmental minutes.
I'm hoping that Favors and Kanter are the starters this year, with Booker and Gobert being the backup Power Forward and Center, respectively. This will allow Gobert to continue to terrorize backup units who dare enter the paint while Rudy is on patrol.
In my hopeful scenario, this is my official prediction of how Gobert will perform on a per game basis:
I'm liking Gobert's chances of breaking through this season as the 2nd center/4th big on the roster who sanguinely gets enough minutes to showcase his skills against NBA level talent.
Look forward to some highlight blocks and dunks this year from our towering Frenchman.
Rudy Gobert is still extremely raw on offense in anything that does not involve dunks. That's the downside currently. The upside is that he appears to have phenomenal rebounding, dunking, blocking skills which should help contribute to him being an overall great defensive player when put into Coach Q's system this year.
At age 22 with fairly limited exposure to basketball, look for Gobert to continue to improve these next few seasons as we start to figure out how good his specialties will be able to make up for the holes in his offensive game.
His role this year looks to be up in the air at this point, but I've got a good gut feeling that Gobert is going to play good enough to get himself backup center minutes this season, especially given the defensive focus that Coach Snyder seems to be preaching.
Here's to you Rudy Gobert, may you make the jump this season!
Chances of him being with the team in the 2015-2016 season: