How Underrated Is Rudy Gobert?

The Utah Jazz's 7-footer is one of the most under-appreciated players in the NBA. How does he stack up with some of the best?

Rudy Gobert was drafted with the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets but was immediately traded to the Utah Jazz for cash and point guard Erick Green. After a few D-League stints and appearing in just 45 games during the 2013 season, Gobert has played extremely well this season.

Gobert has played in 41 games already for the Utah Jazz this season, averaging 21.3 minutes. Gobert’s per-36 minutes stats are impressive, as he is averaging 11.1 points per game, 11.9 rebounds per game, 3.8 blocks per game, and 61.8% from the floor. Among players that have appeared in at least 35 games this year, Gobert’s 3.8 blocks per 36 minutes is the most in the league, his 61.8% field goal percentage ranks fourth, and his 11.9 rebounds per 36 ranks ninth.

This year, our nERD statistic, which measures player efficiency, has Gobert ranked 24th in the league, with a score of 6.1. That's higher than other “big-name” centers such as DeMarcus Cousins (4.3) and Dwight Howard (3.3). This means that, if Gobert were a starter in the NBA, he'd add 6.1 wins over .500 for his team, but Cousins and Howard wouldn't reach that mark.

Gobert’s two primary strengths are his ability to rebound and his ability to block (or alter) shots. Gobert is a beast on the boards, evident from his total rebound percentage of 19.4% and his offensive rebound percentage of 14.1%, good for seventh and sixth in the league, respectively. Also, his block percentage of 8.4% is best in the league. When he’s not blocking shots, Gobert is extremely good at altering them, as he contests 59.8% of shots at the rim, the third most in the league, and allows a field goal percentage of just 37.5%, which ranks best in the league.

In regard to other advanced statistics, Gobert’s Player Efficiency Rating of 21.6 ranks 19th among qualified players, the same as Carmelo Anthony’s and slightly lower than Chris Bosh’s (21.8). Additionally, Gobert’s win shares per 48 minutes of .185 ranks 15th in the NBA, higher than both Marc Gasol’s (.181) and Tim Duncan’s (.181).

As a 2013 draft pick, Gobert is still on his rookie contract. This season he’s making just over $1.1 million, and he'll make roughly the same next year. After that, he has a team-option in 2016-17, which the Jazz will surely pick up, and a qualifying offer in 2017-18. With the salary-cap rules in the NBA, having a contributor like Gobert on a small contract at least until 2017 helps Utah tremendously.

In just his second NBA season, Gobert has shown the ability to make an impact every time he takes the floor. Now, to take the next step, the 7-footer will have to continue to put up these numbers as his role expands.