Inside of this short 18 game season something dramatic has changed with Rudy Gobert.
In the first 9 games of the season the Jazz defense with Gobert on the floor allowed 108.2 pts per 100 possessions. In the last 9 games it has allowed just 96.7 pts per 100 possessions.
The answer may be rebounding. In the first 9 games of the season with Gobert on the floor the Jazz garnered just 69.8% of defensive rebounds. Over the last 9 games the Jazz have grabbed 79.9% of defensive rebounds with Gobert on the floor.
In the first 9 games of the season teams shot 67.9% in the restricted area with Gobert on the floor and took 34% of their shots in the restricted area. Since then they have shot 61.8% in the restricted area while taking 39% of their shots in the restricted area.
Moreover, in the first 9 games of the season the Jazz were -8.8 per 100 possessions Gobert was on the floor. In the last 9 games the Jazz are +2.5 with Gobert on the floor and -11.3 when he is off.
Over the last 5 games the Jazz defense with Gobert on the floor has allowed 98.5 pts per 100 possessions and with him on the bench has allowed 117.1. Some of this is because Gobert has not been playing against the other teams starters, but nonetheless it is obvious he is having a huge impact.
Every good defensive team has a 7 foot holding down the middle of the floor. The five best defensive teams in the NBA this year are the Warriors (Bogut), Rockets (Howard), Spurs (Splitter/Duncan), Memphis (Gasol) and Wizards (Gortat).
Most of the best rim protectors in the NBA are 7 footers, Hibbert (38.5%), Dalembert (38.9%) Howard(39.5%) and Bogut (39.7%)
The Jazz have a remarkable 7 footer in Rudy Gobert. Not only is Gobert listed at 7’1 but he also has a wingspan of 7’9 and a standing reach of 9’7.
In just his second year in the NBA Gobert is beginning to have his impact felt defensively.
When Gobert is in the game teams are shooting 43.6% when he is on the bench they shoot 49.1%. Per 48 minutes opponents score 94.4 pts when Gobert is on the floor and 105.2 when he is on the bench.
No surprise Gobert’s impact is felt around the rim. Opponents shoot just 58% in the restricted area when Rudy is on the floor and only 27.6% of their FGA come in the restricted area. In contrast, when Gobert is on the bench teams shoot 65.2% in the restricted area and take 33% of their shots in the restricted area.
The next step is for the Jazz to figure out how to succeed with Rudy on the floor offensively. The Jazz currently average just 99.2 points per 100 possessions with Rudy on the floor and 105.7 with him off the floor.
This is a great question, Casey. First off, the Jazz started the year playing their first five games against teams that were ranked in the top seven offensively last year. In addition, all of those teams had an All-NBA player. All-NBA players can blow up the best of any game plan.
Now, the last two games against Detroit and Indiana the Jazz should have been able to show some defensive progress. That has come to fruition. Utah’s defensive rating the last two games has been 102.9. The EFG% defense has been 48.6. Both of these numbers come in better than league average and they should since both those teams are below league average offenses.
The preseason is not a great barometer to what is going to happen in the regular season. One game I recall in the preseason, I was talking with an opposing head coach when I realized they had not watched one moment of film to how the Jazz were playing—they were solely focussed on their team. In the season, they are looking to exploit Utah’s weaknesses.
Utah’s perimeter and high pick-and-roll coverage must improve as the season continues.
Oh my goodness has Gordon ever been terrific. The numbers are absurd—19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists a game. If those hold, it will be hard to keep him off the All-Star team. Moreover, the coaches vote and he plays a game coaches love. Gordon is unselfish, plays in the team concept, hustles and respects the game. That will earn coaches’ votes.
However, to answer your question, yes there is a way he doesn’t make the All-Star Team. The Jazz need to win games, and even with wins it might be too much too ask. Traditionally, coaches decide these issues based on wins. With James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry on the team at the wing, with Klay Thomspon, Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay plus a red-hot Kevin Martin all wanting a spot, it’s hard to see where Gordon makes the team. The NBA All-Star roster is just 13 players and the only spot to fill is Durant’s, but if he and Kobe are voted on the team then I can’t imagine Gordon is able to bump Curry or Harden off the team.
Remember, Deron Williams was amazing and didn’t make the All-Star team for many years.
In his Sunday Shootaround for SB Nation, Paul Flannery takes notice of Utah’s improved play in the early portion of the season.