Rudy Gobert may have won the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award three times, but many still question his impact on that end of the floor. It's a tricky situation because, for as remarkable as Gobert is as a rim protector and anchor big, he has his flaws as a perimeter defender, especially in drop coverage, which seems to be frequently exposed when it matters most - in the playoffs.
Does the good outweigh the bad?
But for all Gobert's flaws, his impact is still undeniable. This season, the Jazz's defensive rating with Gobert on the floor is at 105.1, which ranks first in the league. When Gobert sits, Utah's rating skyrockets to 112.3, which is 21st in the league. The -7.2 difference is the best compared to Bam Adebayo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Marcus Smart, who are all considered frontrunners for the award.
"If anybody else not named Rudy Gobert was doing what I do this year and having the impact that I have this year, they would be the frontrunner and it would be clear. Why should I be penalized for being consistent year after year?" Gobert, who appeared on NBA Today, said.
Is Gobert being disrespected?
Every player has flaws (look at LeBron James' free throw shooting until today), and it's unfortunate that Gobert's weaknesses also happen to be on defense — which is where he excels best. Yes, the 7-foot-1 big has trouble stopping the likes of Terrance Mann when he is switched on to the perimeter, but that doesn't deny his presence inside the paint. This season, Gobert also leads the league in rebounds (14.7 a game ) and is ranked fifth (2.1 a game ) in blocks.
It's also important to observe why Gobert finds himself in his situation. Aside from being tasked to erase all his teammates' mistakes on defense, the Jazz roster also has some holes. They don't have the necessary 3-and-D wings and perimeter defenders to make Gobert's life easier. In addition, the Jazz' poor backline defense also often crumbles down, which ends being blamed on Gobert.
So while the three-time defender may be the league's punching bag, it's fair to say that he doesn't deserve all the criticism he gets.
Maybe Gobert is no longer the frontrunner to win the DPOY award this year because of voter fatigue and the idea that he eventually shows his flaws in the playoffs. But at the end of the day, there's no denying that Gobert's defensive impact on his team is monumental for their success.