If playing the Utah Jazz is like visiting the dentist, Rudy Gobert is the one giving out root canals

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 8: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz speaks to the media after Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2017 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 8: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz speaks to the media after Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2017 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

If playing the Utah Jazz is going to be akin to a dentist appointment next season, then defensive beast Rudy Gobert will be the one giving out root canals.

In giving his take on what kind of team Dennis Lindsey would like the Utah Jazz to be, the team’s general manager made it quite clear with a vivid analogy. He stated that he wants every opposing NBA team visiting Salt Lake City to feel like they’re at an appointment with the world’s worst dentist.

Coming from a former kid who had more teeth pulled than fell out naturally, I can certainly relate to that being an awful experience. It’s a simple fact – nobody likes the dentist. No matter what kind of toothbrush, floss or other supposedly more enjoyable trinkets you get at the end, it’s never fun. And even if you’re cavity-free, all the scraping, prodding and question-asking while your mouth is wide open rendering you unable to talk makes it an experience that nobody wants to live through more than they have to.

With that image in mind, you can get a nice sense for the kind of gut-wrenching feeling Lindsey and Co. want their opponents to feel. Basketball is supposed to be fun, but having to grind out a win against the Utah Jazz and their suffocating defense very well might not be.

The Jazz are certainly tooled properly to be such a team. They were already third in the league in defensive rating last season (102.7) and first overall in opponent points per game (96.8). And it would appear that they got even better in that category this offseason by adding defensive menace Thabo Sefolosha as well as proven defenders in Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh along with rookie Donovan Mitchell who hangs his hat on that end of the floor as well.

As daunting as all of those players are, the guy who deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the Utah Jazz’s defensive success is none other than NBA All-Defensive first-teamer Rudy Gobert. Even a routine checkup at the dentist is a drag, but if playing the Jazz is akin to visiting the dentist, then Rudy Gobert is the one performing the root canals. He’s a one-man wrecking crew defensively that, much like a root canal, inflicts the most amount of pain and discomfort on opposing offenses of anybody on the team.

Once again, coming from someone who’s had a root canal (thanks to a bad dentist, no less), it’s not a fun thing to experience at all. And neither is trying to score against Rudy Gobert. On a side note, if you hadn’t noticed, I really don’t like the dentist, so I’m glad I’m for the Jazz and not against them.

Rudy Gobert was a monster last season as he finished first in the league in blocks (2.6 per game), first in defensive win shares (6.0), first in block percentage (6.4 percent), and tied for first in defensive rating (99). Beyond that, he was one of the league’s premier rim protectors (and THE premier rim protector in the minds of many) as he proved able to not only block shots but also force several misses by altering the shot.

One of my favorite sentiments expressed by Gobert last season was that although some claimed he wasn’t as versatile of a defender as other players in the league, he actually affected every player on the court, even the ones he wasn’t guarding. Per an interview with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Rudy had the following to say:

"“When I’m out there and one of the guards has the ball, I’m not the primary defender, but he knows that if he drives, I’m going to be there. So he’s not going to play the same way. That’s the way I think the rim protector impacts the game. Any great rim protector doesn’t only impact the game when he blocks shots; he impacts the game because he’s already in the mind of [opponents] before they even get a shot up or before they even drive. That’s what makes a good defensive team.”"

He certainly proved that all season long. And for an incredible demonstration on how his defense affects essentially every opposing player on the floor, check out this video below:

In other words, while the Jazz as a whole were good at defense, Gobert was undoubtedly the team’s constant anchor. Just like a dentist’s office needs receptionists, nurses, etc., the Jazz needed a slew of good defenders to hum on that end of the floor, but of them all, Rudy was the maniacal oral surgeon that made his team hum on the defensive end.

When Rudy Gobert was on the floor, the Utah Jazz boasted a stingy defensive rating of 100.6. However, when Gobert was off the court, that figure shot all the way up to 107.5. In other words, although Utah has formidable individual defenders, they simply aren’t as well equipped to do their job and make life miserable without their menace in the middle. With Gobert effectively protecting the rim, the rest of his teammates are free to lock up their man knowing that if they get beat to the hole, he’ll be there to have their backs.

Last of all, as good as Rudy Gobert was last season and as important as he was to the team, that should only increase this upcoming season making Utah’s dentist appointment-like environment all the more tough to handle. Not only will he enjoy natural development from hard work and diligence over the offseason, but he’ll also be forced to take on a bigger role with his former right-hand man Gordon Hayward fleeing to Boston.

Not to mention, he has about a million and one chips on his shoulder that ought to help him unleash his inner beast. Not only were he and his teammates spurned by former Jazzman Gordon Hayward, but he missed out on winning Defensive Player of the Year last season, several hoops experts have picked he and the Jazz to miss the playoffs and he seemingly is constantly slept on despite all that he was able to accomplish in 2016-17.

Much to the entertainment of Jazz fans everywhere, Gobert has had some fiery and very much justified responses to doubters lately as you can see in the tweets below. The first came in response to him being left off a list showing players’ MVP odds, which included a host of guys that are unarguably less dominant than Rudy, and the second was in response to a question regarding his message for frustrated Jazz fans.

In other words, take the monster that Gobert was last season, add an entire offseason of improvement and a slew of doubters fueling his determination and it’s pretty easy to see why when opponents check in for their appointment in Salt Lake City, they’ll dread having Rudy Gobert looking down at them while in the examination chair.

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Because while the Jazz team as a whole will make opponents’ visits uncomfortable and unpleasant, they’re just the initial line of defense. Meanwhile, it’s the Stifle Tower who will be the one doling out the painful root canals, the ones that will make opposing teams dread their visit and hope to never return.