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The Downbeat: The Rise of Rudy Gobert

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The Utah Jazz could surprise next year.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Call me optimistic, but this Utah Jazz team still has me really excited for next season. Rudy Gobert is now the face of the franchise, and if his attitude can infect the rest of the roster then Dennis Lindsey will have achieved his stated goal that “he wants every NBA team visiting SLC to feel like they're headed in for an appointment with the world's worst dentist.”

Tom Ziller of SBNation put out an article that the Center position is dying in the NBA.

Centers really don’t matter that much any more. The position has been de-emphasized in the modern NBA...

As the league moves closer and closer to positionless basketball, teams are opting for smaller big men who may not be able to block shots like Noel or post up like Gasol but who can offer just a bit more flexibility on the court...

Teams just need to understand what they’re paying for. Increasingly, it’s not just centers for the sake of having centers.

He mentions in the article that a guy like Rudy Gobert is an exception that proves the rule. I agree that the center position doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Which shows how much more valuable Rudy Gobert is in today’s NBA. Last year, he was often the most influential player on the court for either team, and he has the chance to build on that going into next season. I’m here to say that The Stifle Tower, Gobzilla, Rim Reaper, or whatever you like to call him, is ready to lead this team and take them to new heights.

Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo agrees. He wrote a great article here about how we shouldn’t sleep on the Grodon Howard-less Jazz .

Making up Hayward’s 22 points per game is a bigger problem, but coach Quin Snyder will surely put some of that onus on his shooting guards. Rodney Hood’s efficiency might further benefit from more than 11 shots a night, and he is entering his fourth season in Utah — the same year Hayward made his leap from reserve contributor to legitimate NBA scorer...

Additionally, rookie two-guard Donovan Mitchell... has been one of the biggest surprises of the summer... He could well be the steal of the draft after two solid seasons under Rick Pitino.

As for bigs, Utah still features arguably the league’s top center in Rudy Gobert, who has improved every season and solidified himself as a devastating rim runner and protector on both ends. He could have easily warranted First-Team All-NBA honors over Anthony Davis in 2016-17, and he finished second to Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green in Defensive Player of the Year voting. There is no reason to believe he won’t be as good, or even better, manning the middle in 2017-18...

It would not be surprising to see a team that owned the third-best defensive rating in 2016-17 (102.7) improve to a league-best standard this year. In which case, it can afford a step back offensively.

I posted a good chunk of the article here, because it was that good. Please go read the whole thing as it’s worth your time. He recognizes the talent that remains on this roster, and that they shouldn’t be written off due to one Indecision.

Defense wins championships right? Well, what if that defense includes Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum, Thabo Sefolosha, and Ekpe Udoh?

I think the new Lawler’s Law for the Utah Jazz will be 80 points instead of 100. Will they score as much next year? No. But preventing the team from scoring as well as they will has a ton of value as well. Don’t be surprised when Rudy leads the NBA’s best defense in 2017-2018.

Donovan Mitchell!!

The Ringer did a way-too-early redraft and Mitchell was selected 5th.

Donovan makes NBA guards look like they are playing in mud. If the jumper is legit, and it certainly seems to be, he’s going to be a big-time scoring guard who can also defend.

Johnathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report pegged Mitchell as a low-key ROY candidate:

Mitchell is making a case as the summer league's top two-way player...

Predicted Rookie Stats: 11.8 points, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 41.0 percent FG, 33.0 percent 3PT

Chris Mannix of The Vertical is in on the love as well:

James Hansen from here on the Dunk wrote about how the Jazz could be better next year, despite the loss of Grodan Haywood. Here’s some extra fodder for that as well:

First of all, click through Andy Bailey’s thread and notice how everyone’s stats somehow improve with Hayward off the floor. Am I saying we will be better because Wayward is gone? Of course not, he was an All-Star. This isn’t one of the Kanter-esque addition by subtraction scenarios.

What I AM saying, is that when he stepped off the court everyone needed to step up their game. And they did. I feel confident that our guys can keep that trend going into next season. The bonus reply there was for you Rubio lovers to show that maybe he’s been underrated so far in his career. Further:

And my final thought and poll question: The Jazz lose about 60 points a game with everyone that left, including their 1st and 2nd leading scorers:

Poll

Who leads the Utah Jazz in scoring in 2017-2018?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Rudy Gobert (14 last year)
    (227 votes)
  • 62%
    Rodney Hood (12.7 last year)
    (609 votes)
  • 2%
    Ricky Rubio (11.1 last year)
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    Joe Ingles (7.1 last year)
    (12 votes)
  • 9%
    Derrick Favors (9.5 last year)
    (95 votes)
  • 1%
    Joe Johnson (9.2 last year)
    (16 votes)
982 votes total Vote Now