Death, taxes and Rudy Gobert winning the DPOY.
That may seem a little ho hum when you’re used to watching Rudy Gobert lead the best defense in the league, but at this point in the season last year, the Jazz were 7-7. Their defensive ranking? #18.
From game one this season Gobert has been a dominant force and has actually gotten better defensively than last season.
Let’s take a look at some of what Gobert did against the Minnesota Timberwolves last game, a team that can stretch the floor that could supposedly “Play Gobert off the floor.”
Play #1: Gobert defending Karl-Anthony Towns on the perimeter
In this video you see Towns get the slightest step on Gobert and tries to take advantage by going to the rim. Gobert uses his big strides and moves with him the whole way and forces the miss. Gobert’s ability to move with the defender, at his size, is remarkable.
Gobert is on a level right now that opposing players don’t even challenge him any more. His block totals would go up if he actually got opportunities.
Just look at Towns’ shot chart from last game.
Gobert was so dominant against Towns inside that he was relegated to a spot up three point shooter (something he’s still dominant at). But Towns was held to only 10 shots for the entire game. Gobert effectively took away half the shots from the Wolves’ best player.
Play #2: Gobert defending the pick and roll
This play right here shows why Gobert is so dominant and maybe a little why Mike Conley is making the Jazz defense even better overall. Conley does a good job staying in front of the man he’s guarding. That simple fact, something we didn’t see last year’s point guard do, makes it so Gobert can get to work.
Everyone talks about Gobert’s size and length, and sometimes his athleticism, to show why he’s such a good defender. But Gobert’s defensive instincts are just as good. Gobert destroys pick and rolls like this because he’s able to guard both players. Watch how Gobert guards Gorgui Dieng through the entire play while also keeping close enough to help on the ball handler. At the split second he sees the shooter commit he explodes to block the shot.
This is a master at his craft who is somehow getting even better.
Play #3: Gobert defending another pick and roll
This is a higher pick and roll set up by the Wolves’ offensive actions. The cool thing about this play is it’s kind of a combination of play 1 and 2 that we’ve talked about.
Andrew Wiggins gets the ball and screen and immediately breaks for the rim. Gobert moves at the same speed, at a side step, and blocks the shot. Sheesh
On top of that, Joe Ingles is behind the defender the entire time so Gobert is effectively guarding two men. Wiggins has a step on Gobert and goes with the off hand to get the shot off.
This move ends in a layup against every other player in the league. Gobert, who uses his length to perfection, swats the ball in an irregular direction destroying the play.
This is hall of fame type stuff, guys.
If they gave the award today, Gobert should have it locked up. Luckily, we get the pleasure of watching Gobert do this for an entire season. Utah might be on the verge of one of the greatest defensive performances ever. And for those people who said he couldn’t stay on the floor against stretch shooters, they’ve been shut down, much like everyone who dares challenge Rudy Gobert at the rim.