LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – There was no blocking Rudy Gobert’s shot at a major NBA award.
Gobert became just the second Utah Jazz player ever to win the NBA Defensive Player Award, beating out Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis.
Despite missing 26 games because of an injury, Gobert was still fourth in the NBA in total blocked shots with 129, and averaged 2.3 blocks per game, third best in the league.
The Jazz were a completely different team with Gobert in the lineup this season, winning 66 percent of the game in which he played.
“If I would have thought 15 years ago that I would be here today, I probably wouldn’t believe it,” Gobert said. “There’s a lot of people I want to thank. I want to start with my mom. She’s not here tonight. She’s back in France and doesn’t speak any English, so hopefully they’ll put up some good subtitles for me. I want to thank Quin for believing in me since he got here. All the Jazz organization, the owners, the staff, the city for embracing me and making me feel at home. I’m very excited for the future and proud to be representing the Jazz.”
Led by Gobert, the Jazz had a top-five defense for the second-straight season with a defensive rating of 101.6, the second best rating in the NBA and had the fifth-best net rating in the NBA (4.6) in 2017-18. On the year Gobert owned averages of 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.4 assists in 32.4 minutes per contest.
Gobert joins Mark Eaton, who did it twice in 1985 and 1989, as the only Jazz players to be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
“It really means a lot,” Gobert said. “It’s not just an individual award. The Jazz organization, coach Quin, my teammates, we really worked hard everyday. This is just an individual award, but I would never be here without them, so it means a lot.”
Gobert was asked if he’d ever think about leaving the Jazz to chase a championship with another team, and Gobert shut that down pretty quickly.
“I take so much pride in what we are building right now as a team,” he said. “For me, it means more than just chase a championship, or ride somebody else’s boat. No matter what happened, what we’re building, it means more than anything. I truly believe we’re going to win a championship in the future.”
Despite leading the Jazz in scoring, Donovan Mitchell lost out to Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons for NBA Rookie of the Year, while Toronto’s Dwayne Casey beat out Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and Boston’s Brad Stevens for Coach of the Year.