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The rise of Rudy Gobert, the Stifle Tower

After winning Defensive Player of the Year, what’s next for the Center of Unusual Size?

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has a chip on his shoulder. For him, this game is deeply personal. Gobert chose to wear No. 27 as a reminder of all the players selected before him in the 2013 NBA draft. (He can even name all 27 of those players.) On every level, Gobert works like he has something to prove. And at 26 years old, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year is just getting started.

After an early practice session at training camp, Rudy Gobert spoke about the direction he wants his career to take.

“I definitely want to be one of the best players in the history of the game,” he confidently told reporters.

Putting in the Work

Gobert understands that being the best requires hard work. He spent his offseason actively seeking ways to improve every aspect of his overall game.

The DPOY addressed his offensive deficiencies, working on his footwork and jump shot. He also focused on building his strength. As part of his offseason training, Gobert expanded his regiment from the basketball court to the boxing ring.

“I was boxing before I started basketball, and then when I really started to focus on basketball, I got away from boxing for a long time,” Gobert said. “I’ve got back on track, and I get better every summer.”

Gobert hopes that his training in the ring will give him an edge on the court. Boxing has helped him develop his footwork, as well as his overall strength. He and his boxing trainer work on hand-eye coordination, speed, and agility—all things that contribute to his on-court game.

In the past, Gobert’s tall and lanky form meant that bumps and falls affected him more than other players. For fans, it was downright terrifying to watch the 7’1 center take any sort of tumble. With more body and core strength, however, Gobert is sure to be better capable of handling more contact in game traffic.

Best Year Ever

Gobert has already established himself as one of the toughest rim protectors in the league. His ability to alter and block shots is definitely something the Jazz are counting on in the upcoming season. Ultimately, his presence and experience will be crucial, as he leads the team on the defensive end.

Last season, the team missed his talent on the floor when Gobert was out due to injury. They also missed his leadership and energy too. After his return, the Utah Jazz were a force to be reckoned with. Going into this season, Rudy needs to maintain his strength and avoid injury. We need to see him on the court consistently putting in his best work.

Gobert stands 7-foot-1 and weighs 245 pounds. With a 7’6” wingspan, Gobert’s standing read is up to 9’9” tall. Entering the 2018-19 season in top shape, Rudy Gobert is clearly ready for the challenges the team is sure to face in the stacked western conference.

“I haven’t scratched the potential I think I can have on both ends. I feel like this year is going to be my best year so far,” said Gobert, during the Utah Jazz media day. We should believe him as the last time he spoke prophetically with his tweet “We will be fine,” the Utah Jazz would go on a 29-6 tear for their final 35 games.

Regular season is just days away, as Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz take on the Sacramento Kings on October 17. We better tune in because—as Gobert said—it’s going to be his best year yet.