Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert’s defensive impact puts to shame rest of NBA

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert is no stranger to standing out from a crowd.

No matter how incessantly Philadelphia 76ers defensive man Ben Simmons toots his own horn, when it comes to graphing each current NBA player’s defensive impact this season, the Utah Jazz’s two-time Defensive Player of the Year (2018, 2019) is quite simply on an island by himself.

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Just consult BBall Index.

As one can see in the site’s tweeted graph below, Rudy Gobert appears a bit lonely in the upper right corner, miles from the mainland where everyone else in the league — including self-hype man Ben Simmons — lies. Yup, all others are pretty much piled up on top of one another:

A runaway race. No doubt.

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As a 7-foot-1 shot-blocking machine boasting a 7-foot-9 wingspan with built-in rim-protecting instincts and textbook defensive footwork anywhere between the rim and the 3-point line, Rudy Gobert is the clear centerpiece of his squad’s defense.


And don’t forget to factor in the Utah Jazz’s NBA-leading 42-15 record. At this point, there shouldn’t even be a debate about Gobert standing out as the clear frontrunner in the pursuit of the next DPOY hardware the league hands out.

Again, go back and look at the 28-year-old Frenchman’s absurd advantage in the graph above, showing his overwhelming dominance in both “Defensive Impact Per 100 Possessions”  and “Defensive Points Saved” this season.

If that’s too complicated to grasp, then consider some or all of the following nuggets about the 2020-21 version of Gobert:

  • No. 1 in the NBA with a 100.9 defensive rating
  • No. 1 in the NBA with 4.1 defensive win shares
  • No. 1 in the NBA with 160 total blocks
  • No. 2 in the NBA with his career-high 2.9 blocks per game
  • No. 2 in the NBA with his career-high 33.0 defensive rebound percentage

Furthermore, keep in mind that Gobert is Mr. Durable this year, playing in 56 games. That equates to nine more than No. 2 on the NBA.com Defensive Player Ladder in Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner. And it’s eight more than No. 3 in the race, Ben Simmons.

In fact, Rudy Gobert hadn’t missed a single outing this go-round until a right knee contusion kept him out of Saturday’s 127-115 overtime loss at the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Now, the Jazz list the league’s No. 1 defender — no sane argument right now to squelch that notion — as “probable” for the rematch with the Lakers in the Staples Center at 8 p.m. MT Monday.