Ridiculous Upside: A Look At The Progression Of Rudy Gobert

December 23rd, 2014 | by Dakota Schmidt
(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The sight of marveling at a huge unknown prospect and dreaming about the height of his unfounded potential is an experience that all basketball lovers, no matter if you’re an NBA scout or just an average is something that we just live for. While there always remains that risk where the particular prospect falls on their face and fades into complete obscurity, we all just dream of him reaching his full potential and becoming that shining star that will help lead our favorite team to the promised land.

However in the case for most prospects that don’t exactly reach the aforementioned highs, the particular players try to find ways to utilize their best traits to become the most effective. In the case for our current topic, Rudy Gobert, those traits are clearly evident.

Standing at 7’2” with an outstanding 7’9 wingspan, Gobert has lived his entire basketball-playing life as always being the largest player on the court. While that has lead to him constantly getting an immediate advantage over the opposition, that doesn’t exactly mean that Gobert hasn’t had his own struggles when it comes to becoming a more refined player.

While there has always been praise about how well Gobert is able to utilize his frame on both ends of the court, there was also concern about how a team would be able to make use of somebody that isn’t totally refined. Especially on the offensive end, where Gobert hasn’t been able to develop any kind of offensive arsenal away from the rim, it’s an extremely difficult task for any coach to be able to implement him into their offensive system.

With the hiring of Quin Snyder during the 2014 off-season, it appeared that those concerns were able to evaporate, as Snyder’s offensive system is based around around how the individual players are able to work without the ball. While Gobert is extremely raw from most aspects of the offensive game, he’s extremely mobile for a player of his height, which allows him to be a good off-ball cutter, so long as he’s able to catch the ball.

Even though that skill might seem to be rather elementary for most NBA players, Gobert tended to struggle with being able to corral a pass while on the move, which is evident by him averaging 2.7 turnovers per 36 minutes during his rookie season.

That flaw has appeared to evaporate as those per 36 minutes numbers has diminished to only 1.8, which is impressive when you consider his increased role within the Jazz offense. As those decreased amount of turnovers has helped showcase, Gobert has become more comfortable as an offensive player, which is mainly due to the introduction of Snyder’s offensive system.

Inside that system, Gobert’s been able to overcome his clear offensive flaws to become a solid part of the team’s offense. In large part to his partnership with rookie guard Dante Exum, which has lead to a bevy of exciting plays, Gobert has become an extremely effective inside threat. As of the time of this writing, Gobert is averaging 71% from inside the restricted area, which is better than top front-court scorers DeMarcus Cousins (64%), Chris Bosh (53%) and Dwight Howard (65%). While that All-Star trio are further refined and bring a lot more defensive attention than Gobert, it’s great to see the level of progression that he continues to make.

While on the topic of Gobert’s continued progression on the offensive end, he has made a few strides as a rebounder, at least from a statistical perspective. Per 36 minutes, Gobert is averaging an astounding 4.5 offensive boards per game. Even though that’s only a small climb from his 4.2 per 36 average from 2013-14, it’s great to see that those numbers continue to progress as he becomes a more vital part of the Jazz.

Transitioning over to the defensive end, where Gobert’s fantastic frame becomes even more of a weapon, which is evident by him averaging 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes. While those average are impressive, also factor in that Gobert is in possession of a league-high 7.6 BLK%.

Gobert’s penchant towards the block is not the only factor behind his defensive excellence. Whenever Gobert graces the court, the opponent’s offensive attack becomes a lot less effective, which is clearly visible when you look at the following table.


Category On Off
Points Allowed Per-100 99.1 107.1
Opponent Field Goal% 43.7 50.4
REB% 51.9 50.5
Opponent Offensive Rating 105.6 117.6
Net RTG -3 -6.5

As Rudy Gobert becomes a prominent part of the rebuilding Utah Jazz, his future continues to become brighter on a game-by-game basis. His continued progression is showcased by him averaging 7.2 points, 8.4 boards and 2.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes over the past 5 games. While his increased role due to injuries to Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert help provide those increased numbers, they do showcase that he’s able to produce even if he’s asked to take on more minutes.

Dakota Schmidt

A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.


  1. Chad says:

    Despite the new head coach it still feels like the old system in Utah. Play those who have been there longer despite younger talent behind them. If the Jazz truly wanted to stress defense Gorbert and Exum would be starters. A front court of Gobert Favors and Hayward would be one of the best defensive fronts in the league. Exum and Burks at the guards would be one of the most athletic guard lines. The other talents are clearly bench players and would provide the Jazz some scoring off the bench.

    • Zach says:

      In the “old” system Hood and Exum wouldn’t play at all. They are at least playing. As a rebuilding year it is important that they play and trial different units, regardless of who starts. It is good for Burke and Kanter to start as that increases potential trade value. I think next year is when the Jazz may have a winning record, and it will come with a starting five of Gobert, Favors, Hayward, Exum.

  2. Zach says:

    “While his increased role due to injuries to Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert help provide those increased numbers….”

    RG’s injury increases RG’s minutes? I think you meant Booker there.

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