A lot has changed in the world over the last couple of years. One thing that hasn’t changed, and remains as constant as ever, is Rudy Gobert being in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year.
It’s 2021, and regarding dominant defense bigs in the NBA, Gobert remains a top his throne. Approaching the end of the first quarter of the 2020-2021 NBA season, Bleacher Report put together their top 3 candidates for major NBA awards, and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see that Rudy is on their list for DPOY.
Dan Favale had this to say of Gobert:
Rudy Gobert is probably his closest long-term challenger. He continues to define the Jazz’s defense. The frequency with which opponents reach the rim plunges by 8.7 percentage points when he’s on the court, a drop-off that rates in the 99th percentile, and he currently leads the league in blocks made from four to 14 feet out, according to PBP Stats. Utah’s defensive rating improves by 10.2 points per 100 possessions with him in the lineup as well, a mark that only slightly outpaces last year’s swing (plus-8.2).
BR currently has Rudy Gobert behind Anthony Davis in the DPOY running, which sparked a little controversy on the ol’ Jazz Twitter timeline the last two days. The Lakers currently have the NBA’s best defense, allowing just 104.6 points per 100 possessions. The Jazz have the 6th best rated defense at 106.4 points per 100. The Lakers having that top defense definitely helps the case for the DPOY, as 2 of the last 3 award winners have been on the #1 rated defense. But when looking at individual player impacts on their teams, there is a clear favorite, and it’s not Anthony Davis.
While mainstream outlets push clickbait stories on AD as DPOY, make no mistake: Rudy Gobert is the best defensive player in the league & it’s not close. pic.twitter.com/PN5lFxrJpX— Jake Lee (@JakeRexLee) January 21, 2021
Gobert has always been the king of these advanced defense metrics, and this season is no exception. In terms of ranks in the league, he currently has the 2nd best defensive rating, 2nd most defensive win shares, 2nd most blocks, and 3rd most rebounds in the league. Looking at these numbers side by side it’s easy to see Gobert’s case for yet another Defensive Player of the Year, but a huge part of that is going to depend on the Jazz defense as a unit and if they can climb up the ranks by the end of the season.
Watching Gobert defend is one of my favorite things about the Utah Jazz. The way Rudy impacts games is incredibly unique, and even in a three-point shooting league, Gobzilla changes the game when he’s on the floor. It doesn’t matter if it’s Giannis, Zion, or the entire Spurs roster, Gobert is locking down the paint.
Fresh off signing a $205 Million extension this offseason, Rudy Gobert shows no signs of slowing down. He remains the anchor of the Jazz defense, and a huge part of their identity as a winning team. It’s very likely that he will remain in the conversation for the DPOY throughout the whole year, and depending on how the season ends, he might even win his third award in four years. Simply put - it’s money well spent.