It wasn’t that long ago that LeBron James was telling everyone that no one wants to play as the Utah Jazz in NBA Jam. It didn’t make sense then, and it makes even less sense when you consider what the duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert would look like in NBA Jam today.
For Jazz fans growing up playing as John Stockton and Karl Malone, it was the perfect combo. You had the 3-point shooting, steals and passing of John Stockton mixed with the dunking, rebounding and size of Karl Malone. It was a perfect blend that dominated the game.
What’s crazy is Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are a potentially better duo in the game create them and their rankings. Here’s what they’d look like.
Here’s why Mitchell and Gobert are a perfect combo in the game. On offense you have a speedy Donovan Mitchell who can shoot or drive to the hoop and dunk with ferocity. He’s pretty much a cheat code for the game. Then on the defensive end you switch to Gobert and protect the rim, blocking everyone that dares try to challenge you. If you’re looking for the perfect tandem in a modern-day NBA Jam, this should be your pick.
Let’s look at their stats and why I went with what I did. Note, scores are the same as they were in the game. The lowest possible score is a 1 and the highest is a 9.
This was a hard one. Mitchell’s blow by speed is incredible and you could arguably put a 9 here. Because it’s his 5th season, he’s had a few ankle injuries, and there are guys that have managed to keep Mitchell in front of them, I couldn’t give him the perfect 9. He’s still one of the fastest guys in the league and deserves at least an 8.
Arguably the most underrated aspect of Mitchell’s game is the 3-point shot. As a spot-up 3-point shooter alone, you could give Mitchell an 8 or even a 9. He’s that good. It’s always been the pull-up 3 that dragged him down in his early seasons. Well, that’s changed. Mitchell’s pull-up 3 is becoming a dynamic weapon and the last 2 playoff series Mitchell has been lethal with it. By the end of this season, you could argue this being an 8.
This is obvious. Mitchell is a former dunk champ and can rise and hammer on anyone at will. He does it less often now but it doesn’t mean he can’t. Reputation gives him the 9 here even though he might be more in the 7 - 8 range with how his game has evolved.
6 felt right here as Mitchell has shown he’s a very good passer, even great when he focuses on playmaking. Because he’s a score first guard, and he’s never averaged more than 5 assists, he gets a 6 here.
Mitchell came into the league as a muscular 215 pounds. He’s got an NFL running back frame that he uses well. Still, Mitchell is still only 6’1” and that limits how much power you can give him.
I would have liked to give him more here but Mitchell’s highest SPG in a season is 1.5 during his rookie year. It’s gone down every year since. I’d love to give him a higher number but he actually has to prove it. After 2 games this season he’s averaging 2 SPG. If he keeps that up, this should rise. For now, Mitchell is an average steals player. This is also a spot where you could reward good defensive players and Mitchell just hasn’t proven to be more than an average defender up to this point in his career.
Mitchell’s ability to rise in transition and block a shot from behind is fantastic, it just doesn’t happen often enough to get him more BPG. That’s why this is a 3.
Time and again Mitchell has made monster plays in the playoffs with big shot after big shot. The fact he gets better in the playoffs means he has a strong clutch gene and that’s why he gets the 8. If he can lead the Jazz to the WCF and beyond? This goes up.
5 feels a little generous just because big men in NBA Jam aren’t given a ton of speed in general. However, Rudy Gobert moves well on the defensive end from the perimeter and back to the rim to block shots. It’s fast enough that he earns a 5. To move as well as he does at his size is what makes Gobert so special on the defensive end.
There really doesn’t need to be an explanation here, right? Gobert hasn’t made a 3 in his career. We know he can shoot them, he does it all the time in warm-ups and practice, but until he does it in-game he gets a 1 here.
Because Gobert consistently leads the league in dunks for the season, Gobert gets a 7. That ability to catch lobs makes this Jazz duo even more lethal. Mitchell can throw a lob to Gobert at any time. It’s another reason why this duo is fantastic.
He’s not known for his passing, but Gobert regularly passes the ball out of the roll to an open corner three when the paint is packed. He’s gotten better at it year after year. Gobert doesn’t have the assist number to get a higher score, but the ability is there and that’s why he gets a 4.
Gobert has gotten stronger year after year but he’s still not able to overpower opposing centers in the paint. He also struggled in the Clippers series last year to dominate smaller defenders. Nevertheless, Gobert has gotten stronger and holds his ground on the defensive end well enough and that’s what gets him the 5.
Gobert doesn’t rack up huge steals numbers because he’s usually the final stop for opposing offenses at the rim. This ranking is somewhat of a reward for defense, and Gobert does get deflections, and around a steal per game, so he gets a 5.
The best rim protector in the NBA gets the top score here. No one is better at this than Rudy Gobert, maybe ever. This was the easiest choice of all of these rankings.
Jazz fans know that Rudy Gobert is as clutch as they come in crunch time. There are countless plays over his career where he’s defended the final shot and sent the opposing team home. If there’s one thing you can count on from Gobert, it’s making big defensive plays at the end of games.