Utah Jazz: Three takeaways from the undefeated week

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Rudy the everlasting Gob-stopper

Rudy Gobert has made a statement this week that he belongs at the front of the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Voters of the NBA awards might be getting voter fatigue since he won the previous two awards. Anthony Davis will likely catch voters’ fatuous attention as he is on a new team helping them improve significantly from last year.

Marcus Smart is anchoring the defense for a surprise team nobody thought would be good defensively. They swapped out Al Horford for Enes Kanter, and took on the undersized Kemba Walker, what did you expect to happen? It ended up being that Boston forces a lot of turnovers, relying on lockdown perimeter defense rather than a traditional 7-footed rim protector.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the media give it to Smart this year. Over the past 20 years the award has been given to a big man 16 times, many of which have won it back-to-back like Gobert has. But despite the attention not rightfully going to Gobert this season, he proved last week that he can guard the perimeter.

In the game against the Atlanta Hawks, Gobert was switched on to Trae Young in a big mismatch. The Hawks commentators foolishly thought this would end up in a bucket for Atlanta, and for a second it did when Young got right to the rim with an open layup.

But they forgot that Rudy has a freakishly long wingspan and can easily stay within blocking range of a player when they have no idea he’s coming.

Then it happened again when the Jazz played the Charlotte Hornets. In the video below, Gobert was forced onto Devonte’ Graham who got the same treatment as Trae Young. Later that game Graham tried to cook Gobert up one-on-one with a stepback three pointer, but his shot bricked missing everything but a little backboard thanks to Gobert’s long reach compensating for Graham’s stepback move.

In addition to Gobert’s underrated perimeter defense, he continues to stifle opponents at the rim. He’s a league leader in blocks per game, rebounds per game, and his defensive field goal percentage is again near the top of the list (according to NBA.com). Let’s not forget that he had a double-double in the first nine minutes in Charlotte. That’s insane!

The only thing that is stopping Gobert’s case to threepeat as Defensive Player of the Year is his team’s overall defensive rating. If Utah can climb back into the top five of the league (it’s not too late) then Rudy should hands down win the award.

The only players to win it more than two times are Dwight Howard (three times), Ben Wallace (four times), and Dikembe Mutombo (four times). Howard is the only player to win it three consecutive years in a row, which means Gobert has a shot at making history this season. There’s no doubt in my mind that Rudy is one of ten greatest defenders of all-time, and a future hall of famer.

Next. Game thread: Jazz put win streak on line vs. Miami. dark

Well there you have it, three major takeaways from Utah’s undefeated week. The good news is that Utah’s star players are doing great, the bad news is that it won’t matter much if their bench continues to stink it up.