(Photo courtesy of Jazz #WallpaperWednesday campaign)
By: Daniel Olsen
The Utah Jazz season is almost upon us which makes it easy to dream about how great last season was. Donovan Mitchell was the Slam Dunk Champion, Quin Snyder was the reigning Coach of the Year (in our opinion anyway!), and didn’t someone on the Jazz win Defensive Player of the Year?
Rudy Gobert has quietly gone about the business of helping the Jazz build from cellar dweller to pretender to contender. In his rookie year he was a D-League player who got some minutes but wasn’t super coordinated. He saw the team improve throughout his time in Utah:
2013-2014 season: 25 wins
2014-2015: 38 wins
2015-2016: 40 wins
2016-2017: 51 wins
Last year the team took a slight dip to “just” 48 wins but still managed to win a game in the second round of the playoffs! There are so many reasons why Rudy Gobert should get more credit for the success of the Jazz that it would take all day to count them. But just for time’s sake, here are the top 5 reasons.
1. His hairdo: Ok some of you die hard stat geeks probably saw this and decided to stop reading. What does a hairdo have to do with effective field goal percentage?!?!?! Well, if that’s you then fine, do not read another word. But don’t sleep on the power of a good hairstyle. Someone named……Haywood I believe, used to have hair that looked like he was getting ready for his 4th grade yearbook picture.
However, he found a new barber and got a look that might have given him enough confidence to actually start working on his game. He became an All-Star in a contract year. Perfect timing for pay day.
But like the Revolutionary War that is now history. Rudy Gobert’s lightning bolt etched into his faded hairdo has enough magical powers to make him play like a top NBA center.
2. The Jazz win when he’s on the court: Take a look at these records below and tell me which one you’d rather have:
If you chose the latter then you’re a winner. The latter record is the record the Jazz had when Rudy was on the court. Worthy of a top 3 in the NBA record if he plays the whole season.
The first record was the record the Jazz had when Rudy Gobert was injured. Worthy of the lottery. He may not score the most points but there are things he does to help his team win games.
3. He fills up the stat chart on the defensive end:
Last year Rudy averaged 2.3 blocks and 10.7 rebounds a game in the 55 games he played. Had he played a couple more games he would have been second in the NBA in blocks per game. He also would have been top 10 in rebounding. ESPN stats only include players who have played 70% of their team’s games to be on the list of league leaders. With how much Rudy affected the team on the court and negatively when he was off, there was no doubt about it when he was named the NBA defensive player of the year. He was snubbed from receiving his second consecutive All-NBA honor.
4. He does things that don’t show up on the stat sheet:
Have you ever stopped to think what could be done with a seven foot nine wingspan. From a basketball perspective, most people figure they could dunk on an NBA hope like it was a little tikes hoop. It takes a special type of rim protector to get a kick out of shutting down an offense……..by himself.
When Rudy is down low, nobody goes within his vicinity. If they do then he will severely alter their shot if his hand doesn’t swat it first. Most basic stat charts don’t display how much he affects shots. It takes a true geek to count the number of shots Rudy alters each game. Last year at one point the Washington Post noted that he had the best defensive rating (97.9) of any player averaging over 30 minutes a game. The entire article can be found here.
Take our word for it. In game 5 with Rudy in foul trouble, Russell Westbrook salivated. Finally he could get into the lane at will. Teams have taken note and everyone except maybe the Houston Rockets haven’t figured out how to thwart Gobert.
5. We will be fine: Literally the best and most prophetic quote by anyone to don a Jazz uniform. People probably thought Gobert was crazy when he tweeted this. However, the Jazz went from 19-28 to 48-34 to finish the season following the tweet.
So there you have it. Most ordinary people wouldn’t believe in their team and help them out this much but Rudy isn’t ordinary. He’s EXTRAordinary.