Rudy Gobert, the inconvenience at Utah Jazz and at Donovan Mitchell

At the beginning of April, a mini-revolution took place around the NBA. Often critical of Rudy Gobert, the league’s microcosm has found in Candace Parker, legend of the female version of the NBA, a spokesperson for the French pivot, in turn accused of being the “patient zero” of the Covid for the league, mocked for his tears at the announcement of an All-Star Game roster and reprimanded for not deserving his contract.

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The conversation on the set of TNT had essentially given this:


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Candace Parker:I have a question for you guys: should Rudy Gobert have more than 7 shots per game?
Shaquille O’Neal: Of course.
Dwyane Wade: I agree, I don’t understand how he can only shoot 6 times in today’s NBA.
O’Neal: He should have 6 systems in front of him and six double steps, that’s 12 shots.
parker: If he rolls to the basket and he has a small one, why would he shoot 3 points? I’d be tired of defending on his place.”

Four shots average: Forgotten Gobert?

It was a surprise to see Shaquille O’Neal, the one who had pointed out exactly Gobert’s emoluments, speak properly. However, is this witnessing an evolution of the looks of whoever was beaten by Marcus Smart in the race for the Defender of the Year trophy? In recent weeks, and a shaky start to the Playoffs for Utah, 2-1 led by Dallas, though devoid of Luka Doncic only accentuating the noise, the debate has centered on how many balls the French played during received the matches.

Donovan Mitchell assists Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)

Credit: Getty Images

Take, for example, the first three encounters of the series against Dallas. Gobert shot once (!) in Game 1, five times in Game 2 and last night six times in Game 3. Also note that during this defeat of the Jazz the pivot didn’t miss the slightest chance (6/6 and even 3/3 in throws for 15 points). The sample is small, but never before had Gobert shot so little on average in the Play-offs (4.4 in 2018 for his first appearance). He too had never scored so low (9.3 points).

Mitchell-Gobert, fry on the line

Most questions revolve around the relationship between Mitchell and Gobert. Since he is the one who has the ball most often, the first should often be able to find the second. Their similarity had continued to evolve positively between 2017, the year of the NBA back’s arrival, and 2020. It has been at stake ever since. Mitchell had openly regretted Gobert’s attitude at the start of the Covid wave. Consequence or not, the number of steps from the first to the second decreases, from 5.8 in 2019-2020 to 2.3 this season.

“People are looking for something to divide usrecently tried to put out Gobert with TNT. What we’ve been through over the past three years, the Covid… We’re all aware of that. We know the rumors won’t stop. We need to mute everythingStill, the complicity between the two is not clear. In many ways, Rudy Gobert’s Playoffs are painful to watch.

Will Utah Implode?

Are there extenuating circumstances for Donovan Mitchell and his partners in the “Rudy Gobert shooting” case? In short, does he deserve more shots as defended by Parker, O’Neal and Wade? His percentage (71% in the regular season, the best of his career, 66% in the Playoffs) would push to say yes. But another statistical column gives a different reading.

Rudy Gobert and his Jazz teammates dominated the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs

Credit: Getty Images

With 1.7 balls lost per game, Rudy Gobert doesn’t seem like a “ball” to his team, but he actually loses the ball on 21% of the balls he touches. Only Daniel House does worse in Utah. So the chicken or the egg? Does the Frenchman lack quality in the hand because his partners don’t let him work enough on his technique and his self-confidence? Or do they not give him the ball for fear of what he will do with it? Gobert is neither a very good finisher nor an excellent passer.

Still, there would probably be better things to do with a player like him on the pitch. Depending on how Game 4 of the series goes against Dallas (coming Saturday night at 10:30 p.m.), the future of the Salt Lake City franchise could turn a little darker. Depending on the number of passes Gobert received, some more questions could be heard about his complementarity with Mitchell. Many in the NBA believe that this Playoffs campaign could well be the last of the Jazz in this configuration.


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