Rudy Gobert is learning new NBA lessons by the day, and tonight’s tough home loss to the Indiana Pacers was yet another on a long list.
Matched up with Roy Hibbert, perhaps the most elite among a category of top rim protectors Rudy has begun to be mentioned alongside recently, Gobert found himself in a rare position as the one being overpowered down low instead of the other way around. Hibbert showed off an array of post moves and a deft touch he’s developed painstakingly since entering the league six years ago, and range out to 16 feet that had the young Frenchman scrambling to challenge him on multiple occasions. The two even got testy for a moment after a hard Hibbert foul on Ian Clark, though cooler heads prevailed, and Hibbert actually ended up fouling out eventually.
When searching for examples to model his advancing game after, Gobert might not have to look any further than tonight’s opponent. A similarly gifted defensive player when he was drafted out of Georgetown, initial questions on Hibbert’s NBA potential, like Rudy’s, hinged on whether he could ever be more than a close-in, dunk-heavy player on the offensive end. But Roy has developed extensively as a scorer, and while he’s no first option at the NBA level, he’s skilled and confident enough to avoid any sort of liability status while on the court.
There’s much a raw prospect in Gobert’s position can learn from this sort of progression, something he’s well aware of. When I asked if Hibbert could be a good learning example for him, he responded, “Of course. I watch how he plays offensively and defensively too, and he’s a very smart player. I can learn from him.”
For his part, even after their testy exchange, Hibbert heaped praise on Gobert and his NBA potential. I could barely get a question about the similarities he sees between Gobert now and himself at a younger age before his answer was out: “No. No, he’s way more advanced than I was when I first came in – what’s this, his second year or something? He can jump, he can finish around the basket, he’s so athletic. He’s way better than I was my second year.”
This is high praise from exactly the sort of player Rudy should be trying to emulate as he develops, and it’s great to hear. And despite the tough result tonight, given the way he’s advanced over such a short period thus far in his career, it won’t be surprising at all to see him take a similar trajectory.
|Derrick Favors, PF 43 MIN | 10-16 FG | 7-10 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 27 PTS | +8Logging easily a season high in minutes with 43, Favors had one of his most complete outings. He was efficient from the floor (10-16) and the line (7-10), and was at perhaps his most active offensively. He and Elijah Millsap were the only two Jazz players with a positive +/- figure.|
|Gordon Hayward, SF 42 MIN | 6-17 FG | 12-13 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | -3Like Favors, Hayward posted a season high minute total as the Jazz were shorthanded on the wing. He couldn’t get into a groove early, though he supplemented things with 13 free throws (made 12), and fell a bit short of his typical all-around impact.|
|Joe Ingles, SF 37 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -4Jingles had a solid overall game, actually coming just short of a strange triple-double. He continues to look more and more comfortable defensively, and is distributing the ball well recently also. He was cold from deep like most of the team, though, and continues to struggle badly shooting from distance.|
|Rudy Gobert, C 29 MIN | 4-5 FG | 3-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -1The minus here comes only for an inadvisable second foul Rudy took early in the first quarter that put him on the bench and robbed him of rhythm, but he battled hard otherwise. In a tough matchup with Roy Hibbert, Gobert was sometimes overpowered but continued to fight down low all night, the most one could ask for with Hibbert in the kind of groove he had tonight.|
|Dante Exum, SG 30 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -1Exum showed some nerves early on in his first ever NBA start, going 0-5 from the field out of the gate. He settled in and made some plays, including three triples (he was the only Jazz player with a made three until late in the fourth quarter), but while he encouragingly didn’t turn the ball over, it’d still be nice to see Dante a bit more aggressive.|
|Trevor Booker, PF 17 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -7As is his custom, Booker brought some fire and energy off the bench. He was active defensively and ran the court well, even nailing a three late to keep the game within reach for Utah. Five fouls in 17 minutes isn’t optimal, but it was a tightly-whistled game and one can hardly blame Booker for playing his style.|
|Steve Novak, SF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0This should really be incomplete given just three minutes on the court for Novak, but in the one vital series he did play, Steve missed a wide open three and then gave up a far-too-easy offensive board followed by a simple putback on the other end.|
|Jeremy Evans, SF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8The Jazz were outscored by eight in the three minutes Evans spent on the court, but it’s hard to put any of this directly on him.|
|Elijah Millsap, SG 18 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +1Like Exum, Millsap showed nerves out of the gate in his first NBA game, airballing his first attempt. He was only sparingly active offensively, but showed solid tenacity on the defensive end (a little too much at certain points, to be honest) and should fill in well in that role until Utah’s wing depth is replenished.|
|Ian Clark, SG 17 MIN | 0-3 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -5Clark has been putting up passable performances, but continues to fail to make any real noticeable impact. He’s not inducing gravity as a shooter, and is just a so-so defender. He’ll likely return to mostly a spot minutes role once Rodney Hood returns to health.|
On a night where the shots just weren’t falling for his team (Utah went just 4-23 from deep), Snyder did his best to keep them in the game. He made several savvy adjustments, particularly in the fourth quarter where his offense/defense splits with Trevor Booker and Rudy Gobert, along with a strong full court press, nearly saw the Jazz pull off a miracle comeback. He continues to show more and more comfort behind the bench.