Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert has taken the next step as a player

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images /

Rudy Gobert has been known for his stellar defensive play most of his career, but this season has evolved even more as a two-way player for the Utah Jazz.

Rudy Gobert earned the nickname “The Stifle Tower” for his defensive prowess, culminating in Defensive Player of the Year Honors last season. The award was well deserved, but even his biggest fans want him to take the next step on the other side of the ball.

So far this season, he’s delivered.

Gobert is currently averaging 15.5 points and 12.9 rebounds per game on 65.4 percent shooting. His rebounding average is the fourth-best mark in the league. His scoring average ranks just outside the top 10 at his position (11th) and ahead of other notable names like Marc Gasol, Steven Adams, Myles Turner and Brook Lopez.

The Utah Jazz are currently sitting with a 34-26 record with one of the easiest remaining schedules, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy getting to this point in the season. Gobert has been a big reason for their success as they climb in the race for playoff seeding in the ever-crowded and talented Western Conference.

According to Basketball-Reference, Gobert has posted identical splits in multiple categories at home and on the road.

While on the court, Gobert has helped the Jazz post a 131 offensive and 100 defensive rating at home and a 133 offensive rating and 102 defensive rating on the road. Those numbers have resulted in a +13.3 and +0.2 plus/minus for Gobert at home and on the road, respectively. The latter mark can probably be attributed to the Jazz’s 14-16 road record this season rather than the impact (or lack thereof) of Gobert.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that Gobert is the only reason that the Jazz have 34 wins or are within striking distance of being a top-4 seed in their conference. In-season acquisition Kyle Korver has been a huge boost for a team that (still) ranks in the bottom third of team 3-point percentage.

Donovan Mitchell continues to improve in his sophomore season despite being experimented as the team’s staring point guard as Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum have battled injuries. Derrick Favors is about as consistent as they come.

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One thing that’s been made crystal clear this season, though, is that Rudy Gobert is quite literally the defensive anchor of this team. Without him, his stifling defense and his burgeoning offense, who knows where the Jazz would be?