The Notre Dime: Watch All of Rudy Gobert’s 42 Assists
Rudy Gobert surveys the floor. Is the big man turning into a passer? (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
In last week’s post about Rudy Gobert crashing what we might consider the core of the future Utah Jazz, I mentioned in passing the center’s passing. He has started to show some impressive court vision and what his coach calls “obvious unselfishness.”
On both a per-minute and per-possession basis, he leads all of Utah’s rotation bigs1, and the fact that he’s out-assisting Trevor Booker and Enes Kanter is meaningful, since it’s their minutes he seems to be threatening to cut into.
More importantly, it’s the types of assists and good vision he’s showing that get people excited, both within Utah’s fan base and among national guys2 keeping tabs on the Jazz.
In last week’s post, I promised that I’d put together all of Gobert’s now 42 assists on the season for your viewing pleasure. And I keep my promises.
As I put this together, I realized there are really three types of assists that account for most of The Giving Tree’s3 generosity, plus a catch-all category at the end:
- The hand-off-and-screen. This is actually a staple that the Jazz have most of their big men employ at some point, especially when the action is cut off on one side of the floor. Gobert will simply turn the other direction, hand the ball off to a guard who comes back up to take the hand off, and in the same fluid motion sets a pick for the guard to get off an open shot. (0:00 to 5:00 in the video)
- Diving interior passes. These are the ones that get me the most excited, because I love big-to-big passing and think it’s a prerequisite to building a special offense. Rudy gets the ball while diving to the rim, usually off of a high or elbow P&R. When comes come up, Rudy drops a pass to the other big, sometimes rather creatively. (5:00 to 7:50)
- Kickouts. Lately, Gobert has gotten much better at recognizing the open man and whipping a pass around to someone lined up on the perimeter. These are valuable assists because they’re almost always three-point shots. Lately, he’s even been kicking the ball out after short drives, which absolutely nobody saw coming. (7:50 to 10:00)
- Miscellaneous. Just some random and misclassified ones. Rudy has also had a couple of really nice backdoor needle-threading passes for assists, as well as a couple of assists that probably shouldn’t have counted. One was an outlet pass to Dante Exum4 and the other was an obvious logging error5, but for the sake of having a complete collection, I still included them. (10:00 to 11:15)
And if you don’t think coach Quin Snyder is deliberate about having his young guys master one thing before moving onto another, check out this graph that shows how Rudy’s assists are distributed across those categories. Early on, he did one thing really well on the passing front: the hand-off + pick. The regular pocket passes and kick-outs have only started to make up a large portion of his passing over the course of the last 15 games. He’s developing into a versatile passer on the fly, which is impressive.
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