Despite leading his team to a 32-point victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night, Rudy Gobert received criticism for his defensive impact on the game. Yesterday, after the Jazz beat the Sixers 118-96, the 3x DPOY responded to the critics.
Gobert fires back at Edwards and Beverley
Anthony Edwards and Patrick Beverley are the latest to diminish Gobert's defense, despite the fact stats and individual accolades prove he's one of the best defenders in the league. Beverley called him out for refusing to guard the other team's best player. Edwards took it a step further, declaring the Mavs' Kristaps Porzingis the NBA's best rim protector over Utah's big man.
Gobert, who was matched up against Joel Embiid in yesterday's win over the Sixers, responded to the critics with a monster double-double -- 17 points and 21 rebounds -- while holding Embiid to only 19 points on 8-for-18 from the floor. After the game, he addressed criticism from the Timberwolves' backcourt duo.
It’s not the first time people have taken shots at me for no reason.I come in every single night to help my team win, and be the best Rudy I can be. I never take shots at anyone. I just focus on myself. I think it’s just, when you’re the best in the world at something, people become insecure and try to discredit what you do in some kind of way.
Rudy Gobert, The Salt Lake Tribune
"It's more funny than anything," Gobert continued. "It's just funny. But it's part of it. People are gonna try to discredit what I do, what we do as a team. It's been the same my whole career. I'm just gonna keep winning awards, winning trophies, and hopefully help my team win something bigger than that."
The team comes to Gobert's defense
It wasn't just Gobert who spoke up for himself. Joe Ingles and the Jazz head coach Quin Snyder also jumped to his defense. "I mean, I don't understand,"Ingles said. "For Edwards to say that Porzingis is more intimidating than Rudy is hilarious. They obviously don't watch enough basketball. Maybe Porzingis blocked him one time or something. I don't know. It's bizarre to me."
Snyder zeroed in on Beverley's comment about "the Defensive Player of The Year refusing to guard the best player on the other team." Utah's head coach explained that's the team's defensive philosophy, and a counter to others' offensive gameplans centered around attacking Rudy and getting him in foul trouble.
"He can't guard everybody — but he tries to,"said Quin. "I'd like for him to. Because I think he's — without getting into all the analytics and advanced stats — I think he's our best isolation defender, best rim protector in the league. A lot times he doesn't get to decide who he guards, he's part of a larger scheme, so if he's not guarding somebody, that's on me."
If anything, this is a testament to Gobert's character and the ability to put his ego aside for the sake of the group. Individually, it's still bearing fruit -- 3 DPOYs and 5x All-Defensive selections prove it. But more importantly, it's once again paying dividends for the team -- the 18-7 Jazz sit as the third seed in the West. That's why, whatever Snyder asks Rudy to do, the 29-year-old does it.
"I tell Quin I'm cool with guarding anyone," he said. "I trust the gameplan. When you win by 30 points, the gameplan is pretty good. When I'm out there, I'm not guarding one guy, I'm guarding the whole team. It's hard to understand for some guys; they get used to just being able to impact one guy at a time. I'm trying to guard a whole team."