Though the national media might not recognize Rudy Gobert for the defensive (and offensive, really) star that he is, as Utah Jazz fans, it’s our job to passionately support his play on the court. Remember, though — that doesn’t mean going overboard.
Though I proudly identify as one, I’ve got a bit of a bone to pick with Utah Jazz fans…
As it should be, NBA Twitter is a passionate, competitive place. I love it. And if you ask my wife, maybe too much. These days, though, it’s all but impossible to follow the Jazz without getting caught in the crossfire of Jazz fans complaining about one of the following:
- “The Jazz have won 10 of their last 11 games, yet nobody talks about us.”
- “Donovan Mitchell is a superstar in today’s NBA, but he’s rarely treated as such.”
- “Rudy Gobert is a force on both ends of the court — it’s about time he be respected.”
If it doesn’t, scroll through your Twitter timeline — it’s inescapable.
So in an effort to avoid the risk of standing atop a soap box from which I might never come down, let’s focus on that last one: Rudy Gobert. Cut and dry, the dude is a complete and total freak of nature.
Guys who’ve made a living in the NBA by getting to the bucket can’t get anywhere near the rim. Teams who bank on taking high-percentage shots can’t make their way into the paint. Heck, entire game plans are scratched, tossed and changed at halftime, thanks to Gobert’s presence.
The numbers behind Gobert’s dominance are endless, too.
The standard stats are there, of course. This season, Gobert is nearly averaging 15 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks per game. In fact, over the course of the past four seasons, only two players in the league have averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds — Rudy Gobert is one of them.
Tuesday’s fixture against the Brooklyn Nets held true to form, as Gobert finished the game with 22 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and the notorious (thanks, David Locke) 10 screen assists that led to 23 Jazz points.
Even Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson, couldn’t help but gush about Gobert after his team’s 11-point loss. Courtesy of Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News, speaking of Gobert’s on-court dominance, said Atkinson:
“Best defensive center in the game. He’s pushing himself into the all-time greats. If you don’t meet Rudy with aggressiveness and you’re kinda thinking about it or hesitating a little, he’s gonna block you out, he’s gonna block your shot.”
And though the Jazz’s 10-game win streak was snapped Thursday night against the soaring New Orleans Pelicans, reliably so, Gobert’s rock-solid averages held true. In spite of his game being cut short in overtime, thanks to a very questionable call, Gobert tallied 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
So, with so much good surrounding Gobert, what’s the problem, exactly?
Simply put, Gobert’s dominance doesn’t scream at casual NBA fans (and many “smart” ones, for that matter) come the final buzzer. Again, 15 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks per game are nice, but none of those numbers approach the level of generational superstardom, by any means.
They’ve been done before; they’ll be done again — and again, and again and again.
And remember that impressive 14-point, 12-rebound average Gobert’s maintained over the past four years? Unfortunately, the player he shares that kind of consistent production with is none other than the king of empty stat lines himself — Hassan Whiteside.
You see, to really get into the “genius” that is Rudy Gobert, you have to take an analytical dive into advanced metrics — something most NBA fans (and All-Star voters) just don’t understand.
Currently, Gobert sits in the top 10 in offensive rating (8th), defensive rating (7th), offensive win shares (8th) and defensive win shares (2nd). Again, known for his defense, what’s noteworthy, however, is the fact that Gobert’s 8th in offensive win shares — that’s right behind offensive powerhouse players like James Harden, Luka Dončić, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Now, about that “bone to pick with Utah Jazz fans” I mentioned earlier…
Emotionally linked to their hometown team, Jazz fans (I’ve been there, too) can’t seem to get over the lack of widespread support surrounding Gobert. As such, they take to Reddit, blog comments sections and — as previously mentioned — Twitter to present their undying support for Gobert as not only a hopeful three-time Defensive Player of the Year, but All-Star, as well.
No offense, but it’s time to stop; the narrative has grown tiresome.
If the mainstream media won’t get behind Gobert, that’s fine. Jazz fans will (without being overbearing, hopefully), and for now, that’s enough. Growing louder with each passing win, the Jazz’s victories are saying more than any of your impassioned tweets ever could…