Throughout the summer, Rudy Gobert has been turning heads with his play. It began with the Las Vegas Summer League for the Utah Jazz and continued through exhibition games for his native France in preparation for FIBA play. With the World Cup now officially underway, the center made waves once more with his play against Brazil and their stable of quality NBA big men featuring Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter.
Gobert’s potential has been apparent every time he’s taken the floor lately and his offering against Brazil is further proof of his talent. Perhaps the only major hurdle he will face in becoming an energizing force for years to come will be his ability to stay on the floor. Whether it be due to health or an inability to escape foul trouble, it’s not a given that he will be able to do this consistently.
Against Brazil, Gobert picked up his fourth personal foul with a long ways to go in the game. This forced him out of the contest for most of the game’s crunch time minutes. In the game that followed against Serbia, he had three fouls in only 12 minutes. At times during his limited action with the Jazz last season, he seemed prone to foul trouble. He will need to become better at using his monstrous length as a defender in the future and limit silly fouls.
More important than the foul issue — Gobert has a high basketball IQ, so he should figure that out with experience — will be his ability to stay healthy throughout his career. Players of such immense size commonly fall prey to a litany of foot, knee, leg and/or back issues as their bodies struggle to support those massive frames through the grind of a season that lasts 82-plus games. Just look at Greg Oden and Yao Ming. Gobert seems in good health now, but his conditioning will be key as he develops.
If he can stay on the floor, Gobert has all the tools to be a solid contributor. Coach Quin Snyder has been effusive in his praise of Gobert not only on defense, but as a passer and a finisher in transition. Whether or not he’ll be able to consistently play 30 minutes per night in the league is yet to be determined, but he has a coach and teammates that believe in him and an organization that will probably be willing to invest in his development. All he needs is time on the basketball court. If he can get that consistently, the future is looking bright for Gobert.