As in 2018 and 2019, Rudy Gobert, the French pivot of the Utah Jazz, won the trophy for best defender of the NBA season. He joins the very closed circle of triple winners.
He does not yet have a champion’s ring, but his individual record is starting to place him among the very greats of his sport. After 2018 and 2019, Rudy Gobert, the French pivot of the Utah Jazz, won the trophy for best defender of the NBA season on Thursday. A superb hat-trick, only interrupted by Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2020.
Gobert, 28, was chosen in first position by 84 of the 100 voters who were to nominate the five best defenders of their choice, from an established list. With 464 points, he is ahead of the leader of the Philadelphia Sixers, Ben Simmons (287 pts), and the strong winger of the Golden State Warriors, Draymond Green (76 pts).
“We’re only just starting”
“I am really grateful, reacted the French on Twitter. The skeptics, the fans, and especially my teammates and all the incredible people around me push me every day to be better. We are only at the beginning.”
In 71 regular season games, “Gobzilla” has compiled 13.5 rebounds (2nd behind Atlanta inside, Clint Capela) and 2.7 blocks on average (2nd behind Indiana hub, Myles Turner). Above all, he will have been the 4th most dissuasive player in the league according to the established defensive assessment, only ahead of three others who have played far fewer games than him and who were not logically part of the list of finalists.
Only Howard, Mutombo and Wallace made it happen
With three trophies for best defender on the chimney, Gobert integrates a very closed circle, since they are only three other players, in the history of the NBA, to have signed such a performance: Dwight Howard, acclaimed in 2009, 2010 and 2011, when he played in Orlando, Dikembe Mutombo (1995 with Denver, 1997, 1998 with Atlanta, 2001 with Philadelphia) and Ben Wallace (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 with Detroit). Another Frenchman won this trophy, Joakim Noah, in 2014 while wearing the Chicago Bulls jersey.
Gobert, who signed at the end of December 2020 a record contract extension for a Frenchman in the NBA ($ 205 million over five years), before being selected for the second year in a row at the All-Star Game in February, has largely contributed to the excellent regular season of Jazz.
Utah, who finished 1st in the Western Conference, with the best record in the league, got rid of the Memphis Grizzlies in the 1st round of the playoffs. On Tuesday, the Salt Lake City team defeated the Los Angeles Clippers (112-109) in the first game of the semi-final. A victory guaranteed just before the buzzer, thanks to a decisive counter successful by Gobert.