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Rudy Gobert is the Defensive Player of the Year

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And the numbers agree

Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gobert was absolutely dominant in last night’s performance against the Chicago Bulls. For the first time in a while, a team decided it would be a good idea to attack the Utah Jazz down low with Gobert on the court. Rudy turned that into a season-high 9 blocks, reminding everyone loud and clear who the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year is. In fact, some say the chatter around Gobert should be even larger:

By the way, I couldn’t agree more. The Jazz have the best record in the NBA yet don’t have a representative in the Top 10 for the NBA MVP ladder.

But that’s not the point of today’s downbeat.

The point of today’s downbeat is to remind everyone that the frontrunner for DPOY is not even remotely in question. I know a certain two-time rookie is advocating very strongly in the media every chance he gets. But in the end, one is head and shoulders (literally and figuratively) above the other.

Let’s start off with how Vegas feels, who’s motives should be quite objective:

What do you know, Rudy is the odds on favorite to win amongst betters. By a wide margin. This isn’t a surprise to anyone paying attention, but let’s dig into the numbers a little more.

Rudy Gobert

  • Defensive Rating 102.1 (1st)
  • Defensive Box Plus Minus 2.1 (7th)
  • Defensive Win Shares 2.8 (1st)
  • Defensive Raptor 6.3 (3rd)
  • Defensive LeBron 4.49 (1st)

Ben Simmons

  • Defensive Rating 106.4 (11th)
  • Defensive Box Plus Minus 1.9 (12th)
  • Defensive Win Shares 2.0 (10th)
  • Defensive Raptor 1.5 (63rd)
  • Defensive LeBron 1.5 (34th)

I thought about blinding this to do a side-by-side comparison and remove bias. But my goodness it’s just too obvious. Rudy Gobert is having an impressive season and is proving himself yet again to be the best in the league at keeping other teams from scoring. I mean this as no disrespect to Ben Simmons. He’s a fantastic basketball player and truly one of the best defensive players in the league.

But he’s no Rudy Gobert. And that’s not his fault. No one is!

But he guards and can switch 1-5 you say? True. Simmons does have great defensive versatility (although that’s down a lot this year). That’s what makes him a great defensive player. And Rudy Gobert can only guard 5’s! Well, that’s where you admit that you haven’t actually watched Rudy play. You’re just taking false narratives based on a playoff highlight or two and extrapolating that to his entire skillset.

What if I told you that Rudy has actually defended MORE shots against guards than Ben Simmons has? (credit @JakeRexLee)

And, no this isn’t just because Rudy has met them at the rim time after time. He’s defending these guards out to the 3 point line with regularity. Oh, and look at that. He’s actually holding guards to a worse 3 point percentage than Simmons has this year. That I actually did find surprising, to be honest. Not something I would have expected.

Here’s another good thread comparing the two, if you’re interested.

One last thing I’d like to point out. Gobert also has to make up for defensive efficiency’s in his teammates, while you could argue that Simmons is benefiting from positive defenders around him as well.

  • The average defensive rating for the other 4 Utah Jazz starters: 111.5
  • The average defensive rating of the other 4 Philadelphia 76ers starters: 107.75

Gobert is doing more with less. He’s not just in a good defensive system either. He IS the defensive system for the Jazz.

And he absolutely is the Defensive Player of the Year.