Rudy Gobert Is Playing Like an All-Star This Season
If you're a casual NBA fan, you might look at Rudy Gobert and say he is having a pretty decent season for a young center.
After all, he plays out west for the Utah Jazz, a slow-paced, defense-first squad.
Averaging 12.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.5 blocks per game, Gobert, though, is having one of the best seasons of any player in the NBA, regardless of position.
Here's why he's worthy of some of the highest accolades the NBA has to offer.
What Do the Advanced Stats Say?
For those of you who may be new to the term nERD, it is numberFire’s own player ranking that measures a player’s total contribution throughout the course of a season, based on their efficiency. The NBA average is zero, and nERD provides an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a team would be with that player plus four league-average players.
Based on nERD, Gobert is in pretty great company this season.
As you can see in the table above, Gobert’s nERD currently has him at 9.8, which is good for fifth in the NBA. Gobert finds himself behind some notable names such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, and Jimmy Butler.
Some big names ranking behind Gobert are Chris Paul (8.5), Giannis Antetokounmpo (8.5), Kyle Lowry (8.2), Anthony Davis (7.2), LeBron James (6.7), and Russell Westbrook (6.4). Gobert is currently in some remarkable company.
To the surprise of nobody, Gobert currently leads the league in defensive win shares and ranks 11th in the NBA in offensive win shares. In total, Gobert ranks fifth in win shares.
We have known about the defensive prowess of Gobert for a while now, but to see him land in the top 15 in offensive win shares is surprising based on his offensive involvement in the past.
Gobert is also tied for the league lead in defensive rating (98) among players with at least 500 minutes played. He is also third in the league in offensive rating (129) among those same players. That ranks him right behind Nikola Jokic (130) and right above Durant (126).
With Gobert off the floor, the Jazz see a steep -5.1 decline in their defensive rating from 102.7 to 107.8. League average is 108.2, for context. The Jazz also drop 3.6 points per 100 possessions with and without Gobert. With him on the floor, they score 110.4 points per 100 possessions, above league average. Without him, they're at 106.8 points per 100 possessions.
In addition to that, the Utah's 10 best five-, four-, three-, and two-man units all include Gobert.
Is He An All-Star? All-NBA?
There is no doubt that Gobert is deserving enough to get selected as an All-Star reserve. The only question comes down to if the coaches who vote for All-Star reserves clearly understand the impact Gobert has on the floor.
The Jazz are currently 5th in the West at 29-16, and Gobert is a major part in the team’s success. With the deep talent in the Western Conference, the Jazz will likely get one All-Star between him and his teammate Gordon Hayward, who is also having a great season in his own right, with a 7.4 nERD that ranks 11th in the NBA.
As always, Gobert will be facing tough competition for an All-Star nod in the West with the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Karl-Anthony Towns, Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge. With three frontcourt reserves and two wildcard spots, Gobert has as good of a chance as anybody to make the All-Star game, judging by his impact on a nightly basis.
As long as he continues his current level of play, Gobert can also find himself landing on an All-NBA team at the end of the season as well.
It also helps that, on the All-NBA teams, voters are required to select one center per team. Statistically speaking, there is no doubt that Gobert is playing like a top-three center at this point in the season, which makes him a very deserving candidate for an All-NBA honor.
If the Jazz remain highly competitive down the stretch, don't be surprised if you see Gobert grab a couple of MVP votes as well.