Utah Jazz: 1 stud and 2 duds from road win vs Sacramento

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz stud: Rudy Gobert

Sometimes, life hands you difficult decisions. Identifying Rudy Gobert as the best player for the Utah Jazz last night was not one of those instances.

Rudy Gobert is unlikely to average 20 rebounds per game this season, but thus far, he can’t seem to miss that marker. In addition to those 20 rebounds, he finished last night with a hyper-efficient 17 points (4/7 from the field, 9/10 from the free throw line) and 2 steals.

The Stifle Tower didn’t block a shot in 32 minutes of action, but Utah Jazz fans who watched the game know that he earned his moniker last night. Gobert did plenty of stifling. For a Sacramento Kings club that relies on the dribble penetration of a De’Aaron Fox, that’s particularly problematic. Gobert’s interior defense was a large reason for Fox’s inefficient 5/19 performance.

While an outstanding shotblocker, the real beauty in Gobert’s rim protection comes from disrupting shots to the point that they’re practically impossible to hit, and then collecting the ball afterwards. Ultimately, that’s a more effective defensive strategy than sending shots into the bleachers. While that’s an entertaining and acceptable play in its own right, it does ultimately confer possession back to the opposing team.

Gobert aims to stop his opponent’s shot and collect it, and he did so with alarming success against Sacramento on Friday night.

Furthermore, Utah Jazz fans have to be encouraged by Gobert’s outstanding performance at the free throw line. Obviously, his 9/10 efficiency is likely to be an outlier, but if Gobert can raise his free throw percentage from his career 63.1% mark to something closer to 75-80%, it changes his entire impact on the game. Confident free throw shooters make for confident inside scorers, and while Gobert has been effective under the basket for the duration of his career, an uptick in his efficiency resulting from improved free throw shooting would be a boon for this Utah Jazz offense.

To summarize, Gobert did everything Jazz fans expect from him last night, and more. He’s absolutely deserving of the game’s sole stud designation as a result.