In no surprise, Rudy Gobert was named Defensive Player of the Year at the NBA Awards.
Rudy Gobert snatched the Defensive Player of the Year award on Monday, beating out fellow nominees Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis.
The Utah Jazz center averaged 2.3 blocks in 56 games this past season. Davis led the league with 2.6 blocks-per-game. Gobert missed the early part of the season after suffering a sprained PCL in November, and the Jazz began to free fall in the standings as a result. When Gobert returned, the Utah locked in. On Jan. 7 they were 16-24. They finished the season 48-34, good enough for fifth in the Western Conference. Utah rattled off an 11-game win streak from Jan. 24 to Feb. 14.
The Jazz defense finished tied with Boston first in the league with a 103.9 defensive rating. They held opponents to a league low 99.8 points per game, tied with the Spurs. Utah pulled a first-round upset over the Thunder, winning in six games. They lost to the Houston Rockets in the second round.
Gobert thanked his mom, who was at home watching. He also thanked head coach Quin Snyder and his teammates.
Numbers don’t tell the entire story when it comes to Gobert’s impact. His long arms and quick feet deterred opponents from even thinking of entering the paint. If he didn’t come up with a block, he altered the shots of opponents. This was evident in the first round against Oklahoma City, where Russell Westbrook looked afraid to attack the rim in the early part of the series.
Gobert covered up for any mistakes made on the perimeter by meeting opponents at the rim. The Jazz were a different team once he returned to the lineup. He was named to his second straight first team All-Defense as well.