Former Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert was supposed to lead Team France to FIBA World Cup glory but he’s failed.
The FIBA World Cup is an event that raises and lowers expectations for everyone. Sometimes you come into the tournament knowing some teams aren’t going to do well. Teams like the Philipines and Finland, where Utah Jazz stars Jordan Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen are currently winless. They’re winless but they’re not exactly in great positions to succeed. Some countries just don’t have the talent needed to win. Others, like France, are supposed to be superteams. Especially when they’re anchored by Rudy Gobert, one of the greatest Jazz players in history.
Yet, despite having Nicolas Batum and Evan Fournier, the French team has already been eliminated from the FIBA World Cup.
France is 0-2 in the first round of the tournament, and while Canada was always going to be a tough out for France, they ended up getting jobbed out by Canada to the tune of 95-65. Canada’s been one of the best teams so far, so even though France got blown out, it wasn’t the end of the world.
Then they played Latvia, a team that wasn’t supposed to be undefeated so far but are. They beat France 88-86 behind Rolands Smits and the Bertas brothers, NBA star Davis and older brother Dairis.
France wasn’t supposed to Latvia, and in doing so, saw their chances of moving to the next round end.
It certainly doesn’t help Team France that this is the end of an era. Their three best players in Fournier, Batum, and Gobert are all 30 or older at this point and may all be retired by the time the next FIBA World Cup comes around in 2027.
The aging French squad losing was unexpected but not an impossibility. After al, all three of their better players are on the downside of their careers. Fournier can’t start, Batum is a rotation guy and Gobert has fallen from elite defender to specialist.
And it’s that downfall from Gobert that has everyone happy that the Utah Jazz traded him when they did. After the season he had with the Timberwolves in 2022-2023, and the issues he’s had in the FIBA World Cup, it’s clear that while Gobert is still an NBA starter, he’s no longer an elite player.
He’s now someone who can help a defense, not someone who can be the defense.
And while outlets like Sports Illustrated are leaning on the narrative that Gobert’s FIBA outing is an indication that the Jazz made the right call, we’re here to remind people that the Jazz made the right call before this all broke loose for the Frenchmen.
When the Jazz saw how good a rookie Walker Kessler was, that’s when everyone should’ve known that the Jazz made the right call. Kessler is all you need to win that argument, but it’s also worth pointing out the draft haul.
The Timberwolves aren’t likely to win an NBA title with this corp and the minute they start trading away assets, that’s when those picks will become even better.
So while Gobert’s downfall in the World Cup may have reenforced what we already knew, just remember, we did already know that trading Gobert was the right move.