Utah Jazz: Most intriguing individual matchups series – Northwest Division

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /
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Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert Karl-Anthony Towns
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – MARCH 14: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives past Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz during a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 14, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Rudy Gobert

I hate to be redundant here, but there’s simply no denying that this is the truth. Like Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns also beat out Rudy Gobert as an All-Star last season, so the Stifle Tower will surely want to go at him with a chip on his shoulder to prove himself as the dominant force at center that he is.

Not only that, but Towns is far and above Minnesota’s best player and the key guy on which the bulk of their success depends. With Andrew Wiggins failing to live up to expectations and the rest of the Wolves squad being comprised of young guns and role players, Towns shoulders a massive load, and it’s one that Rudy will be looking to challenge.

However, unlike Jokic, Towns has actually enjoyed some pretty consistent success against Gobert, particularly last season. In four games against the Jazz, Towns was prolific, going off for 27.3 points per contest on 59 percent shooting from the floor and 54.5 percent shooting from deep. Gobert tends to struggle with stretch-bigs, and Towns certainly managed to have his way with Gobert.

But on the flip side, Towns is another modern big who isn’t exactly known for defense, so Rudy likewise managed to perform quite well against him, too. In the four bouts last season, Gobert posted 16.8 points per game on a scorching 74.4 percent field goal percentage. He also managed a whopping 3.3 blocks per game compared to Towns’ mark of 2.0.

And perhaps most importantly, Gobert’s Jazz squad won three of the four contests with the lone loss coming in Derrick Rose‘s ultimate turn-back-the-clock game wherein he exploded for 50 points. Gobert was dominant in terms of plus/minus against Minnesota as he averaged a solid mark of plus-10.5.

In other words, Gobert and Towns both play quite well against one another as Towns is the kind of offensive player that can give Rudy some trouble whereas his lack of defense allows Rudy to similarly thrive. At the end of the day, though, Karl-Anthony’s unreliability on half of the court and a lackluster supporting cast has largely allowed Rudy to thrive.

He’ll look to continue that trend as well as punish Towns more than he previously has when these two teams go head-to-head in the 2019-20 season in what will be an exhilarating matchup between two star centers.

Scheduled Contests:

  • 11/18 Minnesota at Utah
  • 11/20 Utah at Minnesota
  • 12/11 Utah at Minnesota
  • 3/20 Minnesota at Utah