Rudy Gobert is back where he belongs.
Announced by the NBA on Sunday afternoon, Gobert is listed as one of three finalists for the coveted NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Other finalists include Phoenix wing Mikal Bridges and Boston guard Marcus Smart.
Gobert is one of the three finalists for the sixth consecutive season, having won the award in three of the past four years. His nomination di lui this year is special as he’s the only center / forward listed, the first time that’s happened in the past decade.
Another year, another DPOY award finalist.
– Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) April 17, 2022
Interestingly enough, whether it be voter fatigue or some other inexcusable reason, Gobert is not expected to win – which would tie him with Dikembe Mutumbo and Ben Wallace as the only four-time winners.
After dominating the nominations over the past six seasons, some within Utah’s organization believe that he’s held to an unfair standard given all of his success on the defensive end of the court.
He’s the only player in the game who can defend the rim and the perimeter simultaneously, thanks in large part to size and athleticism. He affects the game defensively more than any player in the league.
“Rudy gets evaluated on a lot of different things, sometimes two of them at the same time,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “The fact we’re even making that analysis of guy that can actually protect the rim and go out and contest the three says a lot about what’s he’s capable of doing. His ability to do that is essential on how we play defense.”
2021-22 NBA Awards finalists: pic.twitter.com/CmpAs7tquF
– NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 17, 2022
Despite his standing as one of the greatest defensive players of all time, Gobert has still faced an insane amount of criticism. From players, coaches and media, many don’t give Gobert the respect he deserves – a notion that he no longer cares about as long as the Jazz win.
“If anything, when people keep talking about you, if they’re talking about you in some way, it means you’re doing something right,” Gobert said. “If anything, the more noise, the harder it becomes to take these people seriously. When you’re great at what you do, the world will recognize you for who you are and what you do.… That’s my mindset.”
It’s been a career season for the big man from France as he finished second in the NBA with 53 double-doubles on the year but has the least games played of anybody in the top-5. He averaged 15.6 points and a league-leading 14.7 rebounds per game. He shot 71.3% from the floor and 69.0% from the free throw line, which along with his rebounding total, are career-highs.
Regardless of whether he wins the award or not, Gobert is more focused on the postseason and bringing home Salt Lake City its first NBA title.
“If you’re the best in the world at something, people become insecure and try to discredit you,” he said. “People are going to try to discredit what I do, what we do as a team. … It’s been the same my whole career. I’m just going to keep winning awards, winning trophies, and hopefully help my team win something bigger than that. “
– Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 1, 2022