3. Jazz Center Rudy Gobert

Oct 17, 2021, 10:43 AM
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Photo: KSL Sports/Ben Anderson)...
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Photo: KSL Sports/Ben Anderson)
(Photo: KSL Sports/Ben Anderson)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz open their season on October 20, just three days from today. With the clock ticking, we look at 50 things for Jazz fans to be excited about leading up to the 2021-22 NBA season. Coming in at number three, Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Jazz Center Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert enters the 2021-22 season with two competing narratives swirling above him. On one hand, the center is coming off arguably the best year of his basketball career, having been named to his second straight All-Star team, earning All-NBA third-team honors, All-Defensive first-team honors, while winning his third Defensive Player of the Year award in the last four seasons.

Perhaps most important to Gobert, the Frenchman won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics for the first time in more than two decades.

On the other hand, Gobert has been the target of significant criticism from fans across the NBA who blamed the league’s best defender for the Jazz early playoff exit.

After taking a 2-0 series lead in the second round of the postseason, the Jazz lost their next four games against the Los Angeles Clippers’ small-ball lineup.

While Gobert’s production on the floor remained similar after the Clippers went small, averaging 13.0 points and 9.5 rebounds, the Jazz were outscored by 45 points over the final four games of the series with the center on the floor.

That came after Gobert led the NBA during the regular season in raw plus-minus and was a +19 in the first two games of the series.

How Gobert responds, specifically in the playoffs will play a determining factor in how far the Jazz can advance.

Through two games in the preseason, it looks like Gobert is poised for another big season. The center opened preseason play with a 19 point, 19 rebound double-double in 23 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks before a quieter seven point, five rebound performance in 16 first half minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Gobert will be looking to sway the national narrative back in his direction when he takes the floor this season for the Jazz, as he’ll once again be a favorite to earn an All-Star nod and unquestionably be in the hunt for his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award.

However, it’ll be Gobert’s performance in the playoffs that will dictate how fans around the league view him, and how far the Jazz go in the playoffs. As a result, Gobert’s 2021-22 season will be one of the team’s top storylines ahead of opening night.

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