Utah Jazz: ’18-19 Best/Worst Case Scenario Series: Rudy Gobert

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 10: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz looks on during a game between the the Miami Heat and the Utah Jazz during the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 10, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 10: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz looks on during a game between the the Miami Heat and the Utah Jazz during the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 10, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /
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If Rudy Gobert reaches his maximum potential in 2018-19, both he and his Utah Jazz team are going to be nearly impossible to stop.

For the first two editions of this summer’s best/worst case scenario series, I went ahead and previewed the Utah Jazz’s pair of rookie standouts Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale. As they aim to make yet another leap as second-year players, they’ll face high expectations but also ample opportunity to shine.

For today’s overview, I’m looking at a player who’s a bit more seasoned than those young bucks, yet his expectations remain similarly high. That man is reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. And Gobert’s first order of business for next season will likely be defending the coveted hardware that he took home in 2017-18.

Rudy Gobert has already proven himself as the anchor of the Utah Jazz defense and the heart and soul of his team. As he goes, particularly defensively, so go the Jazz as well. There’s a reason that his healthy return to action coincided with a 29-6 run to close out the year.

And if he reaches his personal best case scenario, he could very well elevate the Jazz to even greater heights than what they’ve accomplished thus far.

Best Case Scenario

If Rudy Gobert absolutely lives up to his potential this upcoming season, there’s a whole lot that he could do. The first aspect making up his best case scenario will be that he remains healthy. Two seasons ago, Gobert appeared in all but one regular season contest, which was an enormous contributing factor to his phenomenal season. Last year, however, he wasn’t able to stay on the floor nearly as much.

Although neither incident was anywhere close to his fault, a pair of knee injuries kept Gobert sidelined for a significant part of the season as he missed 26 contests. Fortunately, he was so dominant in the 56 games that he played that he was still able to win Defensive Player of the Year. Nevertheless, his continued health for 2018-19 will likely be the difference between the Jazz earning a top-3 seed in the West and fighting for placement in the middle of the pack.

Another goal that Rudy should have in order to reach his utmost potential is to get off to a fast start in the upcoming season. For the past two seasons, Gobert’s second half of the year has been significantly more effective than the first. Sure, part of that this past year had to do with his health, but there’s still no denying his trend of relatively slow starts.

If he can instead pick up where he left off and be exceptional from Game 1 all the way until Game 82, he’ll likely post his best season yet as an absolute monster for the Jazz.

Last of all, in Rudy Gobert’s best case scenario, he’ll see a nice improvement on the offensive end. While there’s little room for him to improve in his award-winning defense (but if it does get even better and more versatile there, it will be an awesome bonus), he could definitely make strides on offense.

Rudy shouldn’t be focused on adding a 3-point shot or any sort of uncharacteristic weapons. Instead he should be focused on building on his offensive strengths such as improving his pick-and-roll play and finishing at the rim. If he gets better in those facets and commands more respect on offense, his impact will expand significantly.

If Gobert does all these things, I predict that he’ll not only defend his Defensive Player of the Year trophy, but that he’ll also earn his first All-Star appearance. Both he and the Jazz will need to be performing quite well by the time the teams are decided, but that is certainly an attainable mark for him and would be the reward for reaching his best case scenario season.

Worst Case Scenario

It’s hard to see Rudy Gobert regressing much this next season considering his drive, determination and work ethic. However, his worst case scenario would likely simply include several opposite outcomes to what I just mentioned. For example, perhaps injuries would plague him yet again, he’d struggle to make any sort of strides on offense or he’d once again get off to somewhat of a slow start.

If any of those occur as such, it will likely signify a less than promising 2018-19 season for Gobert. Even so, he figures to be a formidable foe even in his worst case scenario. He’s too great of a player to drop off much, if at all. However, if he struggles to match last year’s production and shows little to no progress in vital areas, it will be a huge disappointment for himself and the team.

In Rudy’s worst case scenario, he’d find himself outside of the DPOY consideration and nowhere near an All-Star selection. He’d become neutralized on defense and rendered less effective by offenses that are prepared for his daunting length and timing.

Next: Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell beats Ben Simmons at the ESPYs

Fortunately, I see almost no possible way that Gobert slides into his worst case scenario. Barring unfortunate injuries, there’s no reason why the rising 26-year-old should have anything other than a phenomenal year in 2018-19. He’s proven his skill immensely by winning the Defensive Player of the Year, and with that milestone checked off his list, he will simply be focused on accomplishing more.

The Jazz are known for developing players exceptionally well and Gobert’s NBA growth is one of the most impressive examples. As he continues to do his thing, he should only get better and find himself once again spurring the Jazz to victory while scrapping for a repeat victory as DPOY.