Trade rumors surrounding Rudy Gobert were a hot topic during the last offseason. When the Minnesota Timberwolves finally made a move to acquire Gobert in July, the organization hoped that getting one more All-Star caliber center would alleviate two of the team’s biggest weaknesses – rim protection and securing the defensive glass.
Looking at the first part of the season, trading away future picks and young prospects seems like a miss for the T-Wolves. Simply put, things didn't pan out as they hoped it would.
Minnesota is currently just outside of the play-in tournament with an underwhelming record of 16 wins and 19 losses. Meanwhile, the three-time NBA defensive player of the year, Gobert, has had some tough times on and off the court.
“The average fan might not understand what I bring to the table, but the G.M.s in the league do,” Gobert stated.
Rudy's arrival has raised some eyebrows, with the majority of Timberwolves fans wondering how would two all-star big men be able to compliment each other on the court. And to be fair, the team has struggled to adjust to the new system in place.
Even the young Timberwolves star, Anthony Edwards, expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of space in the paint which is now mostly occupied with two big-bodied centers.
Adjusting takes time
Gobert spoke about the dynamic of playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and adjusting to the new franchise.
“I don’t really like to call him a center because I don’t think he’s a center. I think it’s more of a wing in a center’s body,“ Gobert said of KAT in his latest interview with the New York Times.
“People like to focus on the fact that it’s two big men that play together, but there is always a process of adjustment when a player like me joins another team. Building chemistry takes time,” the big man added.
Gobert's numbers and his defensive impact are well down from last year. A season ago the 3x All-Star averaged 15.6 points, league-leading 14.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. This season, he averages 14 points, 12.3 rebounds and “only” 1.2 blocks per game; his lowest number since his rookie season.
Dealing with criticism
Over the years, Gobert has been the target of criticism for his play. Despite the change of scenery, this season is no different.
“Once I started to have success, when I started winning defensive player of the year, All-N.B.A., being an All-Star. When my team, when we started winning like 50 games and stuff. The people on social media are always the loudest. When I go outside, it’s usually all the interactions are positive,” Gobert said.
It is no surprise to see sports stars getting a lot of hate and criticism all over social media, especially after a rough patch in their respective careers.
“Social media is a different place, and the people that have a lot of frustration can put it out there. The fans are going to have opinions.” Gobert added, as he tries to bounce back and salvage what has been a disappointing run for the T-Wolves thus far.