Utah Jazz: Ranking Rudy Gobert among NBA’s top centers

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

4. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert

2020-21 PER: 23.5, VORP: 3.6, BPM: 4.5

Don’t be alarmed by the faint whooshing noise you’re hearing in the background. That’s just the sound of Utah Jazz fans around the globe collectively shaking their heads at Gobert’s placement on this list.

Skepticism is warranted, and many observers would opt for Gobert’s services over at least one other player yet to appear on this list. That’s entirely fair. The numbers simply beg to differ.

One might assume that, as a defensive specialist, the Stifle Tower was disadvantaged by the presence of PER, a stat that is sometimes perceived as favouring offensive-minded players, in these criteria. One would be incorrect, as Gobert’s PER of 23.5 actually paced Bam Adebayo.

The Utah Jazz’s beloved big is the most conventional center on this list. He grabs rebounds like they’re critical to his survival, averaging 13.5 per game last season. Anyone who’s even heard of the Stifle Tower knows he protects the rim, as his 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards are quick to attest.

On the other hand, Gobert is primarily held back in these rankings by his offensive limitations. Last season’s averages of 14.3 points and 1.3 assists per game last year do not scream superstar. Gobert is one, but he’d still rank higher among the NBA’s big men if he was more proficient at getting the ball in the basket.

Instead, his strength lies in keeping the other team from doing the same. That’s still a high-value skill, and it earns the Utah Jazz pivot the fourth spot overall in these rankings.