Controversial trade of Rudy Gobert leads to defensive dominance for Minnesota Timberwolves

Rudy Gobert is proving his doubters wrong.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz
Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

The Utah Jazz made the call to move on from Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell not because they were declining but because they weren't. The Jazz wanted to restart and try to build a roster that wasn't as hampered financially as the current one was, and that meant parting ways with its best players in Gobert, Mitchell, and Bojan Bogdanovic.

So Mitchell went to Cleveland, Bogdanovic to Detroit and Gobert to Minnesota. The Minnesota Timberwolves gave up quite a bit to get Gobert and the thought was that they could play Gobert at center, and have Karl-Anthony Towns play power forward, allowing the T-Wolves to feature two bigs with unique skillsets that, in theory, should complement each other.

And it worked unless you listen to the media. Towns was out for most of the season, playing all but 29 games and not playing all that great when he was healthy. The T-Wolves still made the playoffs but were easily beaten by the Denver Nuggets in the first round and a lot of the blame fell on Gobert, with a lot of writers and commentators blaming Gobert's fit for the issue with the team. But Gobert was the only one still playing to his level.

He had the highest defensive rating on the team and was still one of the best players according to RAPTOR on defense. The Timberwolves around him weren't good, with Towns and then point guard D'Angelo Russell being notoriously bad on defense.

The T-Wolves traded for Jarred Vanderbilt and Mike Conley later in the season and the team got significantly better around Gobert on defense, and now the Wolves are the top team in the west with the top-rated defense.

So it's not surprising that after the team made moves to make itself better on defense, they got better on defense. Making all of those think pieces about how it was a failure of a trade for the Wolves look a bit silly.

Sure, as Jazz fans we'd love those picks that Minnesota sent over to turn into high-picks, but it's also great to still see Gobert, a Jazz legend and someone who will have his jersey in the rafters one day, play great still.

Gobert is considered the front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year Award once again, and with the top-rated T-Wolves relying on his defense, it's fair to think he's in line to win it yet again.

The Jazz are still looking good following the trade, with Walker Kessler being a good, but growing player with lots to learn and a bevy of draft picks that should help reshape the future of the franchise. It was a trade both teams needed to make, and one that we're glad to see go as well as it has for Gobert and his new squad. It was easy to take shots at Gobert last season when his team struggled because he was the big new shiny piece and so he bore a lot of the undeserved criticism.

But now the Wolves look great and the Jazz are on the come-up, so it's likely that the two squads will meet in the playoffs sooner rather than later (we hope).

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