Like trying to pick your favorite child, I just wasn’t going to do that to Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. The voting results bar graph itself reads a 50%/50% split, even if there was a very small difference between these two. They are both so important for the immediate and long term success of this team and are justifiably the MVPs.
Donovan Mitchell started his 3rd year off in the league, and has done so in gigantic fashion. That Wade-esque leap everyone was hoping for? Yeah, it looks like that might be happening. He’s an absolute beast on both ends of the floor and has taken on some of the leadership burden for the team.
He’s almost single-handedly carried the offensive load for Utah in the last two seasons. His efficiency wasn’t ideal because of it, but he and the Jazz didn't really have a choice. And the Louisville guard has delivered time and time again. He’s also an amazing young man off the court, always being active in the community and looking for ways to get back. He’s going to be a Jazzman forever and I’ll be able to tell my grandkids that I watched him play live.
That leap he’s taken is insane. Across the board he’s become a significantly better player. Like one of the top 10 players in the league better. He’s looked completely unstoppable on offense, and quite the defensive stopper on the other end. His midrange feels automatic this year and he’s getting the rim (and therefore the free throw line) a ton this year. The spacing has wonders for him this year and it’s so fun to watch.
Rudy Gobert has been the team’s most valuable player for 2 years running. As the best defensive player in the world, that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. He’s been far and away the most important player in terms of winning basketball games. He influences the game on the defensive end in a way that I’ve never seen before. His presence in the paint changes the way an offense functions. It’s so fun to watch him get those help side blocks. It’s even funner to see when a player driving with an open lane decides to avoid it entirely knowing that Rudy is down there to put their shot into the 2nd row.
Rudy isn’t just about defense though. He’s one of the most efficient offensive players as well. “All he does is dunk”, they say. Ok, well even if that were true (it isn’t), a dunk is the best shot in basketball and he broke the record for the most in an NBA season. I fail to see why doing that is somehow a bad thing. He also helps with spacing significantly because he’s a dangerous threat as the roll guy in a pick and roll offense. You have to respect him down low, and that opens up the game for everyone else. And he sets the best screens in the league and leads in screen assists by a wide margin.
He’s a special talent. You can plug him onto literally any team in the NBA, and they would have a top 10 defense at worst. He’s just that good. The All-NBA center is the anchor for this elite Jazz defense and is a leader in the locker room. I hope he plays his entire career in a Jazz jersey.
Rudy Gobert has been Utah’s MVP for the last 2 years. There’s no question about that. But with hopeful and even expected jump that Donovan was going to take this year (that seems to be coming to fruition), it isn’t a shock that his value could rise up to the level of Rudy’s. They make for an amazing 1-2 punch and finally have some more top-level talent around them. Utah is in for a special season, thanks in-large part to Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
That wraps up the voting for Jazz Rank this year. Here’s a quick recap of how it all ended:
18. Stanton Kidd
17. William Howard
16. Justin Wright-Foreman
15. Jarrell Brantley
14. Nigel Williams-Goss
13. Miye Oni
12. Tony Bradley
11. Emmanuel Mudiay
10. Dante Exum
9. Georges Niang
8. Ed Davis
7. Jeff Green
6. Royce O’Neale
5. Joe Ingles
4. Mike Conley
3. Bojan Bogdanovic
1. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell