Rudy Gobert is arguably one of the best defensive players in the NBA. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been named the 2018 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. But what makes Gobert such a lethal player on defense?
Two of Gobert’s biggest advantages are his height and wingspan. The Frenchman measures 7’1”, has a wingspan of 7’9”, and has a standing reach of 9’7”. When Gobert declared for the 2013 NBA draft, he broke the records for wingspan and standing reach.
Aside from his physical advantages, Gobert also has a high basketball IQ. When he blocks other players, he knows where the ball is going and where he needs to be to make the play happen. When blocking, he tends to wait until the ball is in the air before swatting at it, which helps him avoid earning defensive fouls. Similarly, with rebounding, he makes sure he’s placed in a spot where he can make the most impact.
Here’s a look at some of Gobert’s best plays on the court:
The Stifle Tower blocks again
Gobert’s nickname is part reference to his French heritage and part reference to his ability to keep opposing offenses in check by stifling their ability to score. Gobert has a career average of 2.2 blocks per game and currently leads the Jazz for the season with the same stat of 2.2 blocks per game.
Bound to rebound
Gobert also leads the Jazz in rebounds with 12.9 rebounds per game this season and a career average of 10.3. Gobert’s size and agility allow him to get to where he needs to be for rebounds. In a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 3, 2015, Gobert recorded 24 rebounds, which made a big difference in the close contest.
While Gobert’s stats for stealing aren’t as high as they are for rebounds and blocks, when he steals the ball it can turn into quite a spectacle. This specific play shows Gobert stealing the ball from a Minnesota player, running it down the court, then executing a behind-the-back pass to Trevor Booker for a dunk.
Dunks for days
Just because Gobert is a defensive beast, doesn’t mean he’s not good on the scoring end as well. This season, he’s averaging 15 points per game, making him the second leading scorer on the team. In the 2017-18 season, Gobert tallied nearly 150 dunks, even though he was out for a few weeks due to a knee injury. His effortless dunking shows that size does matter when it comes to choosing a center for your team.