Is Rudy Gobert the Last True Center?

Recently, released its top 100 ranked players with Rudy Gobert at No. 15. Many could argue that Gobert is an underrated defender, or on the other side, was placed too high on the list. But, as for me personally, I think he fit in well. While comparing Gobert to the rest of the list, I only kept in mind which centers had already been listed. This is not comparing him to other guard/forward type players.

Gobert is a fright on the defensive end. Obviously, he was the winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, but there is something bigger behind his impeccable defense. His intense passion for the game helps him put up good numbers, and love for his team help the Jazz develop.

Arguably, Shaquille O’Neal was the last true center. Today, the meaning of the position has since developed into a stretch option. Now you see more players at the center position (such as Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Karl Anthony Towns, and Marc Gasol) shooting three pointers more often.

Now where does Gobert fit in here? Well for starters, through his career he’s never attempted an outside shot. More and more centers are moving their game outside to fit in better with the surplus of point guards, but Gobert is someone who feeds off of that. Fellow Jazzmen throw lobs in easy faith, knowing he’ll put them back down. And they can count on Rudy for plentiful rebounding, and aggressiveness. Utah is constantly utilizing his 7’ 1" lanky stature as not only a scoring option, but for excellent defense.

He’s constantly showing resemblance to old school centers such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Die-hard competition and relentless rebounding. In the table below, both Olajuwon and Abdul Jabbar put up more points than Rudy, but his other defensive numbers are quite comparable. This is great on Gobert’s resume.






Gobert (‘17-’18 season)






Olajuwon (career)






Abdul-Jabbar (career)






But in other centers that are adapting to small ball, they show a lot more features of a huge small forward, especially more common around the outside shots as well. You see younger players at the 5-spot changing their game to something more relative to a guard’s game, rather than getting into the blocks and wreaking havoc inside the paint. Rudy has since stayed true to his playing style, and still resembles an old-school center.

I thought he fit well at the 15-spot in the top 100 rankings, because SI is recognizing his old-school features: outstanding shot blocking, rebounding, and defensive pressure. Not to mention the Defensive Player of the Year award. Passion for the game is what distinguishes "The Stifle Tower" from the rest of the NBA.

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