Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert follows up his second All-NBA selection with a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year trophy.
He may not have been an NBA All-Star this past season (thanks a bunch, coaches!), but apparently this Rudy Gobert cat is pretty good. At the NBA Awards Show on Monday, the Utah Jazz center followed up his second career All-NBA nod with his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award.
In doing so, he became just the 10th player in NBA history to capture the award at least twice and the second Jazzman to do so, following Mark Eaton.
With his Jazz coach Quin Snyder, assistant coach Alex Jensen and others in attendance, Utah’s man in the middle gave a short, but sweet acceptance speech, thanking his teammates, coaches, the Jazz organization and his mother for helping him along the way.
Although there were other strong candidates in the category this year, Gobert’s repeat here was well-earned, and the statistics prove as much.
The Stifle Tower led the NBA in defensive real plus/minus (4.35) and defensive box plus/minus (5.1), was second in defensive win shares (5.7) and total blocks (187), third in blocks per game (2.3) and fourth in individual defensive rating (100.4).
Also — he spearheaded a Jazz defense that conceded just 105.2 points per 100 possessions, which was second only to the Milwaukee Bucks, and opponents shot 11 percent below their norms within six feet of the hoop when he was the closest defender.
Even so, Gobert’s competition for DPOY honors was stiffer than in 2018. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who walked away with MVP honors later in the evening, managed to snag 26 of 100 first-place votes during the ballot process. In the end, though, Gobert was picked as top defender 65 times, and outpaced the Greek Freak 411-280 on total points.
Not only that — he actually picked up a fifth-place vote for MVP as well.
In other words, for one night at least, all was right with the NBA world. I’ll still never understand how or why Gobert was excluded from the Western Conference All-Star Game in February; in addition to being the Association’s most elite player at 50 percent of the game, he was the key cog for a top-five team in the conference.
If the numbers weren’t enough to convince the nay-sayers that coaches screwed up the vote, Gobert’s double dose of year-end hardware should be.
Per our friends at SLC Dunk, P.J. Tucker seems to be a little slow on the upkeep; throwing shade at Gobert via Instagram as he accepted his trophy. Of course, Tucker isn’t elite at anything and his team is currently mired in controversy, so there’s that.
At any rate, Gobert got the last laugh on this night, and he’ll likely be laughing all the way to the bank in the end as a player who’s eligible for a supermax extension.