Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert as a top-5 scorer at his position?

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images /

Rudy Gobert is one of the stars for the Utah Jazz and has steadily improved as a player. That doesn’t mean there’s no more room to grow for the Frenchman.

Fresh off winning the Defensive Player of the Year award, Rudy Gobert headed into the 2018-19 season with high expectations. Widely regarded as one of the best defensive big men in the game and the anchor of the Utah Jazz defense, Gobert has come a long way from being an unknown, skinny kid from France.

Much will be expected of the player affectionately nicknamed as the “Stifle Tower” if Utah wants to build on its surprise showing last season. Whether he takes another leap remains to be seen, but there’s reason to be hopeful.

Rudy Gobert is a career 10.0 points per game scorer, with his highest average coming in the 2016-17 season, where he averaged 14.0 points per game. That ranked eighth among centers that season, above other notable centers like Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan, Clint Capela and Steven Adams. That’s not to say that Gobert should be considered better than those guys simply because he averaged more points in a season two years ago, but it highlights his continued growth since entering the league.

So far through two games this season, Gobert is putting up 17.5 points per game. It’s easy to make an argument that he won’t maintain average that over the course of the season, especially with the emergence of players like Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles, but that doesn’t mean that Gobert can’t evolve into a scoring big.


The French Rejection has attempted three 3-pointers in his career, missing all of them, so it’s fair to say he won’t be having a Brook Lopez turn in his career.

A whopping 80 percent of Gobert’s career field goal attempts have come within 0-3 feet of the rim, so it’s likely fair to assume that trend will continue. That doesn’t mean that Gobert isn’t valuable.

Three is worth more than two and that is still true in the game of basketball. In today’s NBA, much emphasis is placed on a player’s ability to shoot 3-pointers, but not every basket scored in a NBA game comes from beyond the arc.

In that same vein, two points is still two points.

In order to take that next leap, Gobert needs to take a few more shots than his 7.8 field goal attempts per game the past two seasons, while also converting more than five shots per contest he’s averaged the past two seasons. That’s very attainable, though he’s only taking 7.5 shots per game through two contests this year.

The difference has been free throw shooting, but Gobert getting to the line 16 times in two games, making 13 of his attempts.

The fifth-leading scoring among centers last season was Andre Drummond, who averaged 15.0 points per game. The next four leaders were Dwight Howard (16.6 per game), Marc Gasol (17.2), Nikola Jokic (18.5) and Joel Embiid (22.9). To make the claim that Gobert will suddenly be the leading scorer at his position would be outrageous, even for the most diehard Jazz fan. To say that he will be in the top five at season’s end is not.

Last season, Rudy Gobert missed 26 games, which didn’t qualify him for the leaderboards in scoring. If he had, his 13.5 points per game scoring average would have ranked 10th among centers and only half a point off of eighth place.

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Even if Rudy Gobert only ups his scoring average to 15-16 points per game, his name should be right up there on the leaderboards — not just as a defensive leader, but a scoring one.