Where Should You Draft Rudy Gobert in Fantasy Hoops This Year?
As is the case after most late-season breakouts, there is already a debate simmering among fantasy hoops fanatics about where to take the big Frenchman in this year's drafts. Can he build on the success he had in the second half last year, or was his late-season dominance just a mirage that will cause prospective owners to overvalue and overdraft him this year?
With an average draft position (ADP) of 214 in 2014 (according to FantasyPros.com), Gobert likely went undrafted in most standard 10- and 12-team leagues last year. During the first half of the season, he put up subtly useful averages of 6.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.2 blocks, and 1.1 turnovers through 53 games, while shooting 62.9% from the field and 61.2% from the free throw line.
That was good enough for a ranking of 62nd in nine-category leagues, but he was still mostly unowned at that time because of the lack of scoring flash and the unreliable nature of his mere 21.9 minutes of playing time per contest.
Despite Gobert's solid per-minute production over the first half, the Jazz remained committed to Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors as their starting frontcourt right up until the All-Star break, while Rudy's owners were left to dream of what could be. Thankfully for those #FreeGobert crusaders who held on tight through his quietly solid and understated early-season production, they were rewarded over the break when the Jazz traded Kanter to Oklahoma City and finally decided to unleash "the Stifle Tower" on the NBA.
During the two remaining months of 2014-15, Gobert was an absolute beast. Through his final 29 games of the season (all starts), he averaged 11.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 2.6 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers, while shooting 57.6% from the field and 63.3% from the charity stripe. That was good enough for 19th overall in nine-category leagues over that span.
If you compare the first month of his getting used to the starting role and the month that followed, there's even more reason to be excited about where his fantasy value is going.
19th overall in nine-category leagues in both months? That's consistent fantasy value, my friends.
The first month didn't feature a lot of offensive output from Gobert, but the monster rebound and block numbers more than made up for that. The second month saw his rebounding numbers dip a bit as he was asked to do more on the offensive end, but Gobert's finding his shooting touch (60.0% from the field) and upping his scoring by nearly four points per game buoyed his value through that just fine.
Both the 16- and 13-game samples are admittedly on the small side, but the fact that he came in at 19th overall in both cases with comparable assist, steal, block, and free throw numbers shows that he has the potential to be a consistent multi-category threat.
The Jazz are a fantastic defensive team with Gobert starting -- first overall in Defensive Efficiency at 94.8 points allowed per 100 possessions after the All-Star break, compared to 27th at 106.1 allowed before the Kanter trade -- so you can bet that the 34-plus minutes per game he put up regularly as a locked-in member of the starting five to close out the season will be the new norm.
Throw in the fact that he's only 23 years old and the near-negligible holes in his fantasy game (points and free throw percentage) will almost certainly get better with time and 19th overall starts to seem like a conservative floor for the budding big man.
Gobert's current Yahoo O-Rank is 25 (beginning of the third round in standard 12-teamers), but his dominant second half of 2014-15 makes him viable as an early second-round pick at a minimum in redraft leagues, and possibly even as a first-rounder in keeper and dynasty formats.
His post-break rebounding (13.4), block (2.6), and field goal percentage (57.6%) numbers would've placed him third, fifth, and second in the league respectively, if prorated over the full season. That's Anthony Davis-esque. You don't get Brow's scoring or free throw numbers, but everything else is in the same ballpark, and you simply don't let fantasy goodies like those slip much later than the first group of must-have studs in fantasy drafts.