Last season, the Utah Jazz were unable to provide a lot of minutes in their rotation for Rudy Gobert. The late first-round pick was a project player, used mostly in garbage time and situationally as a defensive substitution.
Despite being a legit seven-footer with a ridiculous nine-foot-seven standing reach, he had difficulty contending with NBA bodies. This was due in large part to his slight frame. There also just weren’t a lot of frontcourt minutes behind Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Marvin Williams.
Heading into next season, it appears as though the minutes could be hard to come by for the young Frenchman once again. Favors and Kanter are still the team’s primary big men and the Jazz have also added three-point specialist Steve Novak and the scrappy Trevor Booker to their frontcourt lineup. That said, coach Quin Snyder must do what he can to find minutes for Gobert.
Throughout the Las Vegas Summer League, Gobert was consistently the best player on the floor for Utah. On offense, he was a force inside, connecting on 19-of-26 attempts from the field and scoring 12 points in only 23 minutes per game. He was also a monster on the boards, collecting just under 10 per contest.
Defensively, he was the centerpiece to the Jazz’s summer league effort. When he was on the floor, the team was able to contain opposing offenses. When he wasn’t, the Jazz were lost. Gobert was a major deterrent for opponents looking to get to the rim, finishing third in the Vegas league in blocked shots. Even so, he stated that he could’ve done more in that regard and has a desire to do so.
One could argue that this success came against players without NBA size, and perhaps there is something to that. Although he says that 10 pounds of muscle has been added to his frame, Gobert still looks quite lanky. He was matched up on a couple of occasions with Giannis Antetokounmpo when the Jazz’s summer squad played the Milwaukee Bucks, and he did have success against the ultra-long forward. However, Antetokounmpo is somewhat slight of build in his own right.
Gobert may need to bulk up some more and the Jazz will need to give the Favors-Kanter combination its best chance to succeed this coming season, but his potential (especially on defense) is too great to keep him down. Snyder must find more minutes for Gobert.