Mitchell On Gobert DPOY: ‘I Believe He’s Going To Win’
SALT LAKE CITY – On Sunday, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named a finalist for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Jazz defensive stalwart has three DPOY awards already and would move into rarified air with a fourth.
Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo are the only other two NBA players to earn the award four times, and both rode their defensive reputations to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
On Monday, All-Star teammate Donovan Mitchell endorsed Gobert for the award.
“Are you surprised? I’m not.” Mitchell said. “This is something he’s been doing since I got here, man. He’s a guy who protects the rim, he’s great defensively — I believe he’s going to win.”
Gobert finished the regular season as the NBA’s leading rebounder and third-leading shot blocker. He finished first in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus, and first in FiveThirtyEight’s Defensive Raptor rankings.
The Jazz center is the only big man to be named a finalist, joined by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges.
“Those guys are a hell of a defender as well, Smart and Mikal,” Mitchell said. “But he’s been a guy — every year he’s been there and he helps us tremendously. So I think he’ll get it.”
Gobert also discussed what it would mean to with his fourth DPOY award ahead of Monday’s game two matchup with the Dallas Mavericks.
“That would be amazing, it’s always great to win it, but I see the bigger picture,” Gobert said. “I understand that for me, my legacy will be much more than how many of those I get.”
Currently, Gobert is tied with Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard with three career DPOY’s. However, unlike Mutombo, Wallace, and Mutombo, Gobert has never made a trip to the NBA Finals.
“My legacy won’t be defined by [the award],” Gobert acknowledged. “It will be by who I am off the court, and what I win for my team on the court, and that’s what I’m focused on right now.”
The NBA will name its regular season award winners on TNT throughout the postseason.
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