Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Rudy Gobert

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 9: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz signs an autograph for a fan during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 9: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz signs an autograph for a fan during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Rudy Gobert had an electrifying 2016-17 season with the Utah Jazz and it would appear that his best is still yet to come.

Without a doubt the most exhilarating player on the Utah Jazz roster last season was breakout center Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower was already a reputed force on defense, however, not only did he elevate his game on that end of the court even more than many thought possible, but he also become one of the most efficient offensive players in the league.

His dramatic improvements on both ends of the floor resulted in him being selected as a Most Improved Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year finalist. Although he didn’t end up netting either prize, his consideration for the awards was definitely evidence that he has made an impact on the league.

And although, as I discussed in a recent episode of the Three-Point Threat Podcast, Rudy Gobert continues to be slept on by fans and the media alike, with former All-Star teammate Gordon Hayward out of the picture, the Stifle Tower has an excellent opportunity to silence all doubters once and for all with an explosive 2017-18 campaign.

Best Case Scenario

In some ways it would be hard to imagine Gobert having a better season than he had in 2016-17, but given his determination, work ethic and seeming never-ending drive, it would actually be more surprising to see him have a worse year than it would to see him take yet another step forward.

In a best case scenario, Rudy adds even more versatility and reliability to his offense, extending his range slightly away from the basket and adding more post moves while continuing to be an incredible finisher and one of the best roll-men in the NBA. Beyond that, Gobert should continue to be a force on defense and only get better as he adds more experience and familiarity with the rest of his opponents in the league.

If Gobert can do all those things, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him up his scoring to around 16-18 points per game while continuing to pull down double figure rebounds. He led the leagues in blocks last year, not to mention several other advanced defensive statistics, and he ought to be capable of doing that once again.

Especially considering that Rudy was an NBA All-Defensive Team member and on the All-NBA Second Team, one would think that as long as he can continue on a similar and hopefully improved trajectory next season, he ought to be a shoo-in for an All-Star bid. Many argued that he should have been an All-Star last season, so with a heightened opportunity and the chance to be the Jazz’s best player, his chances ought to improve even further.

And if all that comes together and Rudy’s true best case scenario is reached, then he should also finally earn the highly coveted prize of Defensive Player of the Year.

Worst Case Scenario

It’s hard to imagine Rudy Gobert going into a tailspin after the dominant season he put up last year, but of course each and every season is unpredictable. If he does have a worst case scenario type season where his production on both ends of the floor regresses, it will likely be a result of the Jazz losing their two top scoring options from last season in Gordon Hayward and George Hill.

If Utah’s offense suffers in their absence and Gobert finds himself without room to operate, it could result in him struggling to have the kind of offensive impact he had last season. Defensively, the Jazz ought to be even more stingy than last season, so it’s truly hard to see a situation where he declines in that area either.

However, if Rudy finds that opposing offenses have largely figured out how to nullify his impact after his dominant season in 2016-17, there’s always the slight chance that he ends up not quite as formidable on that end. If such is the case, then his All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA chances are likely bleak at best.

Next: Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Derrick Favors

If you couldn’t tell, unless Gobert undergoes an unfortunate bout with injuries, I can’t even really fathom a “worst case scenario.” Perhaps the best way to put it would be that his worst case scenario involves him not improving beyond what he has already accomplished, but even that seems like a long-shot.

Gobert was phenomenal last season and has yet to reach his prime, so 2017-18 ought to be just another chance for him to prove himself and take the next illustrious step in his career. The Jazz are without a doubt his team now and it will be vital for him to take command of them as such.

While some of the accolades I mentioned in his best case scenario will be an extreme challenge, I have absolute confidence that he can accomplish them. And seeing his potential All-Star season come together will be one of the most fascinating aspects of the upcoming year.