Hint: It's not solely because of his hands.
While delving through the trove of top NBA player stats,
I noticed something must be wrong with my formula pretty quickly. My first four players turned out fine. Favors got a JPR (Jazzy's Player Rating) of 43.19, Hayward got 42.71, Hood scored 34.87, and George Hill scored 32.57. Now, I haven't adjusted it to perfection yet, but those were ballpark numbers I expected. Favors was slightly higher than I felt he should be, because many recorded stats favor big men who get lots of rebounds and shoot mostly efficient shots under the basket.
And then I got to Rudy, and he scored a quite surprising 92.64. I quickly realized I entered his Blk% incorrectly, forgetting to add one extra 0 after the decimal. Fixing that brought his score down to the 60's. After some big man nerfs in the formula, I could only whittle his rating down to 46.73, still significantly better than anyone else on the team.
I was trying to figure out why his rating was so much higher than the others that I had calculated up to this point, and I found an extremely intriguing stat. This past season, Rudy had a massive FTr of 79.9%. I double checked this, and found it to be true. FTr is the ratio of FGA:FTA, so what does this mean? It means that Rudy shoots 5.8 times a game, and an additional 4.6 Free Throws a game. Estimating to make things more clean, this says that Rudy shoots 8 times a game, and gets fouls called ~3 times a game or ~37.5% of the time (2 regular fouls and 1 "and-one" estimated in the number of shot attempts). For contrast, Hayward is second on my list in FTr so far with 39.7%. He shoots 15 FGA a game, and 4.9 FTA a game. Which means he shoots an estimated 17 shots a game, and draws fouls on about three of them, with one being an "and-one". That means he gets a foul called on 17.6% of his shots. Gobert is more than twice that.
It would be interesting to see the statistical numbers for what periods and what time marks all of these fouls happen. Because I'm sure you're already thinking, "But Jazzy, the other team uses the 'Hack-a-Shaq' strategy and just fouls Rudy at the end of games." This is true, but I have noticed in games that teams will foul him hard instead of giving him a layup or dunk because of his FT%, regardless of which quarter they are in.
So here's my theory
The Jazz has many good passers and ball handlers on the team this year. Yet, last year our ball handlers weren't shabby either. We were perfectly capable of passing to Rudy if he got open, but we didn't. Why didn't we? Because if we passed to him, he'd likely get fouled and put on the free throw line. It's not solely because of his hands, or because we had poor passers who couldn't get him the ball. It was a strategic choice. And if we don't see his free throw percentage increase, we may not see very many passes to him this year either. Especially considering the extra scorers we have added to the squad.
However, on the other hand, if Rudy were to increase his free throw percentage, he may just turn into an unstoppable offensive juggernaut. At the very least, he wouldn't be an offensive liability.
Regardless of how things turn out, Rudy will always be a defensive behemoth. So we have that going for us.
PS. This wasn't supposed to be a conclusive article that 100% proved my point. We may just not pass to Rudy because of all the reasons we previously believed. I just found this something interesting to think about.