AP Photo | Rudy Gobert
Thursday evening, the NBA revealed this year’s NBA All-Star reserves. Despite rumblings about scrubs, I mean “role players,” like Zaza Pachulia making it, the players, coaches and fans combined to get it right. Or mostly right at least. Rudy Gobert was unpardonably snubbed.
Rudy Gobert should have been voted an All-Star. Instead, more flawed candidates like Draymond Green, Demarcus Cousins and especially DeAndre Jordan made the team.
There are at least four reasons why Gobert should have been selected over these three.
1. Gobert is the best defender in the league, and he anchors the best defense in the league.
Utah is number one in point per game (95.4), number one in field percentage allowed (.482) and number two in defensive efficiency (101.3). He protects the rim and is there to threaten penetrators with his extraordinary length and agility. He leads the league in blocks per game (2.6), and opponents shoot a lower percentage at the rim against Gobert than all but two other players, Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid neither of whom anchor particularly good defenses and Gobert has played far more minutes than Embiid. If you don’t believe that Gobert behind Utah’s defensive dominance, look at the 20 games he missed with injury last year in which the Jazz was not particularly good defensively.
2. Utah is the second slowest-paced team in the NBA which lowers Gobert’s stats.
Gobert is only averaging 12.8 points per game behind Cousins and Gasol but still more than Jordan and Green, and he’s a little behind Jordan in rebounds (12.6 to 14). Gobert could post at least an extra rebound and a couple of points if Utah ran at that pace that the Warriors(2) or even the Clippers(18) do.
3. Gobert is not a liability from the free-throw line.
Although Gobert has had rough games from the free throw line, teams aren’t able to play hack-a-Gobert like they do with DeAndre Jordan. The stifle tower has even won a few games for the Jazz by making his free throws. Gobert shoots nearly 65 percent while Jordan only shoots 51 percent.
4. He’s not a liability in the locker room, and he’s not a nuisance on the court.
Gobert is the rare tough guy who also has a great deal of self-control. You won’t see him punching walls or chairs, yelling at the officials or kicking someone in the groin. You can’t always say the same about Green and Cousins is a disaster in nearly all intangible categories.
Rudy Gobert should be an NBA All-Star
Maybe Gobert isn’t the highest usage player in the league, and maybe he doesn’t have a diverse toolbox of moves or a smooth jump shot, but he plays well when he needs to. He’s the only player in the league to have a 25 point 25 rebound game. He’s also one of the most efficient players in the league shooting 66 percent behind only DeAndre Jordan who is one of the few players who Gobert does have a more diverse repertoire of moves than.
Ultimately, I understand that the All-Star game is a popularity contest which is hard to win when you play in a small market and your team is just starting to be good enough to be showcased on national TV, but make no mistake, Rudy Gobert deserves to be an All-Star.
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