After an impressive performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named to the All-NBA Summer League second team. Gobert posted nearly 12 points and 10 recounds per contest to go along with a 2.5 blocks per game mark that was good for fourth overall in the Vegas League. As the summer trudges forward and Gobert turns his attention to the FIBA World Cup, opportunity is knocking for the young Frenchman.
Two of France’s key frontcourt players, Alexis Ajinca and Kevin Seraphin, will not be with the team when it competes in Spain. Ajinca’s wife is expected to give birth during the tournament, so he has elected to forgo participation and stay with her. Seraphin, who recently re-upped with the Washington Wizards, was not cleared medically after undergoing a surgical procedure on his knee earlier this summer. Their departures have created an opportunity for players like Ian Mahinmi and Gobert.
For Gobert, it’s a chance to test his mettle against higher level opponents. His summer league play was fantastic, but as a second-year NBA player and a legit seven-footer, he should be expected to dominate that level of competition. In FIBA play, he will go head to head with the likes of Pau Gasol, his brother Marc Gasol, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and other world-class big men.
Early returns have been promising. In the France’s first exhibition game leading up to the tournament, Gobert posted a line that was on par with some of his spectacular summer league showings. In the game, he went 5-for-5 from the field and 6-for-7 from the line en route to a 16-point, six-rebound, two-block performance. France ended up defeating Belgium 79-57 in the contest.
As is also the case with No. 5 overall pick Dante Exum, this opportunity to log extra minutes in a high-level international tournament is important for Gobert. Utah’s frontcourt is crowded, but with each step he is able to take in his developmental process, Gobert asserts himself as a force to be reckoned with in coach Quin Snyder‘s rotation. A positive experience at the FIBA World Cup could go a long way in helping Gobert’s case for more minutes next season with the Jazz.