There are some who aren’t decided who the Defensive Player of the Year is, and there are those who have watched Rudy Gobert. In Chicago, where Rudy Gobert put up a near triple double with blocks (21 points, 10 rebounds, 9 blocks), the Utah Jazz blew out the Chicago Bulls 120 - 95 and looked like they did pre all-star break.
For whatever reason the Bulls decided to go at Rudy Gobert as their strategy and, well, we now see what happens if you do that. Gobert was fantastic in all facets. He didn’t force the issue he just played his role and tonights role was to block everything.
It wasn’t just Gobert that was great either, Donovan Mitchell was lethal on offense. Mitchell scored 30 points with 6 rebounds and 6 assists while shooting 11/19 from the field and 5/8 from three. Mitchell wove through defenders all night picking his spots and tearing apart the Bulls. When he wasn’t shredding the nets he was finding open shooters and, if we’re being honest, if Bogdanovic doesn’t go 0/5 from three then we probably have two players barely miss a triple double.
And finally, what would this blog be without mention of Joe Ingles. Ingles has apparently decided that it’s not a good idea to miss 3-pointers. Tonight he had another blistering night from three going 5/6. In his last 3 games Ingles is shooting 18/22 from three which, I’ll save you the time to pull out the calculator, is 81%. Ingles is playing at such a high level it’s helped the Jazz work through some of their issues offensively. Yes they are playing not as great a competition as you’d like but Utah is starting to move the ball again and trying to get all their players back on track. Bojan Bogdanovic is still in an insanely bad slump and Jordan Clarkson is as well. But because Ingles is shooting at such a high level it’s allowing them time to figure it out.
Rudy Gobert is the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year and anyone who says otherwise is telling on themselves. It’s really not a question at this point. Gobert is the most important defender in the league and every team has to scheme around him or their gameplan will get wrecked immediately.
Tonight was a special night because it appeared Chicago wanted to try attacking him at the rim no matter what and we saw what happens. The funny thing about that strategy is that’s exactly what Utah wants teams to do. The more they can funnel shooters off the three point line and into Gobert the better. Normally it ends up with a player seeing who they have to face and they’ll back it out wasting precious seconds on the shot clock that lead to a tough shot. Tonight they made Utah’s job easy.
And that’s probably the best thing about Gobert is just how reliable he is. You know that you’re going to get incredible effort every night that leads to wins, it’s what has happened all season and it’s why the Jazz will end this season with the best record in the NBA.