NBA players name Rudy Gobert as the league’s top defender

Sydney Kings v Utah Jazz

There’s no denying that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is one of the best defenders in the NBA.

In fact, Gobert averaged 2.3 blocks in 56 contests for the Jazz in the regular season and continued to be a dominant interior threat at the rim. 

As a result of his stellar play and despite his shortened campaign (due to injury), Gobert was named one of the three finalists for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award along with Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid and New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder began lobbying for Gobert to win the award all the way back in March.

“I think it’s an empirical fact,” he said, regarding his center being the best defender in the league, per Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune. “Empirical from the standpoint that if you look at every number, he has been dominant. I’m not pining for him. I will. But I am just stating what is happening with our team and what Rudy is doing is special right now.” 

Gobert also expressed confidence that he’s the best of the best.

“I don’t like to make my own case, but there’s nobody who impacts the game defensively like I do in the whole world,” Gobert said at the time. “I watch a lot of games, and I don’t see anyone. Draymond had a great year last year, and he was close. But this year, it’s not close.”

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry made quite the claim after facing Gobert during the regular season.

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“I think [Gobert is] probably the best rim protector in the league, not so much from the blocking of the shots, but just the intimidation of him being there. … Having two or three blocked shots is not a big deal, it’s the other seven or eight he bothers that would be layups that he ends up affecting,” Gentry admitted.

A great honor

On Friday, Gobert’s peers spoke volumes when the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) voted him as the recipient of the Locksmith Award as the league’s top defender.

He seemed to be overjoyed to receive the honor.

Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz

“I just want to thank everyone that voted for me as the best defensive player in the league,” Gobert told Uninterrupted. “It really means a lot to me knowing that the guys that I compete against every night are showing some love and recognition and I really appreciate it.”

Although the Jazz have been eliminated from the playoffs for a few weeks, Gobert hasn’t been taking any days off, even against (much) shorter opponents:

Judging by Gobert's development and his play this season, the future looks bright in Utah if the team can add a couple more pieces to the puzzle. Since the team has a defensive identity, everything they do on the court stems from Gobert's ability to protect the rim.

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