FanPost

THE TRUE VALUE OF RUDY GOBERT

As Rudy Gobert becomes available for a supermax extension that could be valued as much as $200 million+ over five seasons, there is legitimate concern among many about whether or not a "traditional" center like Gobert can really add enough value to justify such a huge price.

Rudy is unarguably a tremendous defender, having won the defensive player of the year award twice, and is now a 4x all-defensive team member. Rudy is quite possibly the best defender the Jazz have ever had, and ranks among the all-time great defenders in the history of the NBA. Even critics of Rudy's game admit that he alters the game on that end of the floor.

But his offensive value is harder to pin down. While he has amazing offensive stats (2nd in the NBA in TS%, 3rd in ORB, 5th overall in OWS, and 4th in ORTG), he has not followed the trend of recent NBA big men who have moved further from the basket. While it is not uncommon for centers to average more than one 3-point attempt per game, Rudy has only attempted three his entire career, and he missed them all.

But Rudy Gobert is still an elite NBA player at both defense and offense, as this FANPOST will demonstrate. Here is the key to measuring Rudy's value:

At it's core, winning basketball games is all about having higher points per possession (ppp) than the other team. A team's ppp is impacted by three things: TS%, offensive rebounds, and turnovers. Whichever team wins those three categories wins the game.

That is not an oversimplification. While other contributions like defensive rebounds, steals, blocks, and assists certainly matter, they only matter to the extent that they support TS%, ORBs, and TOVs.

Let's look at how Rudy impacts those three categories, on both ends of the court. We'll start with offense:

Rudy's Offensive Value

Offensive Impact to the team's TS%

The season just ended, Rudy ranked 2nd in the NBA in TS%, at a ridiculous .699. That was by far the highest mark on the team. The 2nd highest Jazz starter was Bogey at .602.

The reason for his astronomical TS% is obvious: He takes the vast majority of his shots at the rim. But any analytic expert will tell you that is a tremendous advantage, not a weakness. The most valuable shots in basketball are shots at the rim, and they are even more valuable when Rudy is shooting them. Per nba.com, Rudy made 74% of his shots at the rim this season, and he took over 500 of them. Teams are focusing more and more on trying to prevent the other team from getting shots at the rim, and only two players in the league did it more often than Rudy.

Some will argue that his own TS% has only a minimal effect on the team's TS% because he only averages 8.2 FGA per game, which ranks 5th on the team. But Rudy's teammates also shoot better when they are on the court with Rudy than when Rudy sits, and the impact is dramatic. That's because he provides gravity at the rim which pulls defenders away from other shooters.

Let's look at how Rudy's teammates benefit from his presence.

FG% w/ and w/o Rudy:

Jingles

Royce

Mitchell

Bogey

Clarkson

With Rudy

46.8

45.9

45.7

44.8

46.8

Without Rudy

37.9

28.1

45.3

43.4

45.7

All four starters and our 6th man have a better FG% with Rudy than without him, and some by wide margins. Jingles and Royce especially benefit from Rudy's presence.

3P% w/ and w/o Rudy:

Jingles

Royce

Mitchell

Bogey

Clarkson

With Rudy

41.5

41.0

38.6

40.8

34.0

Without Rudy

34.9

23.8

37.2

48.6

38.9

Jingles and Royce are dramatically better 3-point shooters with Rudy on the court. Mitchell is also better with Rudy. Only Clarkson and Bogey have a higher 3P% without Rudy, and it is a very small sample size for Bogey with only 35 attempts without Rudy vs 422 attempts with him.

Per Cleaning The Glass on/off numbers, the Jazz's eFG% improves from 52.8% without Rudy to 56.5% with Rudy on the court. That improvement in eFG% ranks in the 93rd percentile of all NBA players, and the increase in the team's FT rate with Rudy on the court (22.9%) vs off (17.5%) ranks in the 95th percentile of all players. Both factors improve the team's TS%.

(For the uninitiated, eFG% takes into account the value of 2-pointers and 3-pointers. TS% is the eFG% plus a consideration for free throws.)

Rudy's offensive impact to the team TS% is clear. Not only is Rudy elite himself, but he dramatically improves the shooting and FT rates of his teammates as well.

Offensive Impact to Offensive Rebounds

This one is pretty straight forward. At 3.4 per game, Rudy leads the team in offensive rebounds by a large margin. The next highest is Tony Bradly at 1.9, followed by Ed Davis (who only played 28 games) at 1.3. Everyone else on the team averaged 0.8 or less.

Rudy ranked 3rd in the entire league in total offensive rebounds this season, which was the 3rd time he has ranked in the top-3, and the 4th time he has ranked in the top-6. He had nearly double the ORB of any other Jazz player.

Those extra 3.4 opportunities per game have a very significant impact to the team's scoring margin. If the team gets off one additional FGA for each offensive rebound, and makes those shots at 47.1% (the Jazz's average FG% this season), even if the extra attempts are all 2-pointers, that would add 3.2 points to the team's scoring margin. The team's total scoring margin this season was +2.5, an amount that is more than fully explained by Rudy's offensive rebounds. Or, in other words, without Rudy's offensive rebounds, the Jazz's scoring margin would turn negative.

Additionally, offensive rebounds often lead to tip-ins and uncontested put-backs near the rim with the defense out of position, so the team's FG% on those attempts is likely significantly higher than its FG% on other attempts. I couldn't find team data on that, but Rudy himself made 46/73 tip-ins this season, a rate of 63%.

Offensive Impact on Turnovers

This one is more difficult to quantify. At 1.9 per game, Rudy averaged the 5th most TOV on the team, but he also doesn't handle the ball nearly as much as some of the players who average more than him. This past season tied for Rudy's worst for TOV's. Some might argue that other players occasionally get credited for turnovers when it is really Rudy's fault for missing the pass, but that complaint is overstated and can at least partially be attributed to poor passes.

I looked at the whole team's numbers with Rudy on and off the court to see Rudy's impact, but it was unclear. Cleaning The Glass put him in the 33rd percentile in this category this season, but he was in the 74th percentile the year before.

The Jazz as a team are actually pretty poor in this category as a whole, whether Rudy is on the court or not, ranking 21st in the league this past season. I really can't say if this is a strength or a weakness for Rudy. Likely, he is somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Rudy's Defensive Value

Defensive Impact on TS%

This one is easy. Rudy has arguably been the best defender in the league over the past six seasons. His defense completely alters opposing team's game plans. During those six seasons, he has ranked in the top-8 in DRtg every year, the top-9 in DBPM five times, and the top-3 in DWS three times. Even during the two seasons when he missed a significant number of games due to injury, he managed to have the 12th and 17th most DWS.

The most visible way Rudy hurts opposing team's TS% is by blocking shots. His career average of 2.2 blocks per game ranks 3rd among active players, 21st in NBA history, and is by far the highest on the team. He dipped to 2.0 this season, but that was still good for 6th in the league. He has ranked 1st in the NBA in blocks once and 3rd three times.

But his blocks don't even begin to represent the real influence that Rudy has on the defensive end of the court. In addition to preventing the opposing team from getting highly efficient shots at the basket, his dominance of anything inside the 3-point line allows his four teammates to play tight on their man without fear of getting burned because they know that Rudy has their backs.

That impact is evident in the on/off numbers of the opposing team's TS%. Opponents eFG% decreases from 54.4% to 51.1% when Rudy enters the court, per Cleaning the Glass, and their free throw rates decreases from 22.3% to only 16.8%. His impact to opponent's eFG% ranks in the 91st percentile in the league, and his impact to opponent's FT rate ranks in the 96th percentile.

Simply put, opposing teams shoot much worse when Rudy is on the floor, and they go to the free throw line less often.

Defensive Impact on Offensive Rebounds

The way to prevent the opposing team from getting offensive rebounds is to get defensive rebounds. Rudy ranked 2nd in the entire league in total defensive rebounds this season. (He ranked 1st in total rebounds.)

On the team, Rudy has nearly double the 2nd highest Jazzman on defensive rebounds. (Perhaps surprisingly, 2nd place is 6'4" Royce O'Neale, followed by 6'1" Donovan Mitchell, which makes you wonder what 6'7" Jingles and 6'8" Bogey are doing.)

The Jazz hold their opponents to the 5th fewest ORB in the league, and that is largely thanks to Rudy Gobert. Limiting the other team's ORBS not only prevents them from getting extra shot opportunities, but those extra opportunities would often be high percentage put-backs and tip-ins with the Jazz's defenders out of position.

Defensive Impact on Turnovers

Similar to the offensive impact on turnovers, Rudy's defensive impact is difficult to quantify. Rudy averages 0.8 steals per game, which ranks 3rd on the team and is pretty good for a center. I'm not sure how to get a good measure of other types of turnovers, and getting a single player's impact on that would be especially difficult. But the Jazz as a team rank 29th in the league in forcing opponent turnovers. The Jazz are pretty terrible in this category with and without Rudy on the court.

Summary

Add it all up, and the true value of Rudy Gobert is evident: When Rudy is on the court, his team scores A LOT more points, and the other team scores A LOT fewer points, and that impact is greater on both ends of the court than nearly any other NBA player, and much more than any other Jazz player. What Rudy does might not be sexy, but he does more to help his team outscore the other team than all but just a very small handful of players.

Rudy Gobert is easily the most valuable defensive player on the Jazz, and one of the top in the entire league.

Rudy Gobert is easily the most valuable offensive player on the Jazz, and one of the top in the entire league.

*All stats come from basketballreference.com unless otherwise indicated.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.