Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert Considers Himself Best Center in NBA

Rudy Gobert recently claimed that he considers himself to be the best center in the NBA and there are several reasons why he is convincingly proving that to be the case.

After an incredible performance in the Utah Jazz’s grind-it-out 82-73 win over the Memphis Grizzlies last night, Rudy Gobert had every right to feel confident. He held Marc Gasol to eight points on 4-of-22 shooting and went ballistic on the offensive end, scoring 21 points on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting night.

The fact that Rudy was able to completely shut down the Grizzlies leading scorer and a guy that has been considered by many to be the best center in the NBA was absolutely the leading contributor to Utah’s win.

Thus, it’s no question that following the game and riding the high from that breathtaking performance, Gobert was feeling pretty sure of himself. In fact, after the big win that moved the Jazz into fifth place in the West, he told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he believes himself to be the best center in the NBA. He said,

“To be honest, right now, I think it’s me. But it’s a long season. I just try to take every game as a challenge. The hardest thing is to do it [for] the full season.”

And while Gobert isn’t exactly the most well-known center in the league and several casual fans may even laugh at his self-praising remark, his incredible numbers of late truly tell the story.

Over the last nine games, Gobert is shooting 81 percent from the field (47-of-58) while holding opposing centers to 41 percent (34-of-81). That’s a forty percent discrepancy on nearly thirty more opponent shots.

Gobert currently leads the league in field goal percentage at a scorching 69.4 percent that will only keep climbing if he continues to have performances like his 9-of-9 outing last night. Beyond that, he’s also second in the league in blocks at 2.71 per game and is averaging 12.3 points and 11.6 rebounds on the year.

Those numbers pale in comparison, however, to how Rudy has been playing of late. Over the last seven games, the Stifle Tower is putting up 17.4 points, 13.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.

What’s even more impressive about his scoring numbers is that Gobert isn’t even necessarily the focal point of Utah’s offense. Yes, he’s a key cog, but he’s not like DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis whose teams rely almost totally on them for scoring. Rudy is putting up these kind of numbers even with the likes of Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood on the floor alongside him.

I love how CBSSports writer James Herbert described Gobert’s game and how his unique and versatile playing style truly back up his argument as best center in the league:

“The numbers above are a fine argument for Gobert as the league’s premier center over the past few weeks, and you have to wonder if this would be more conventional thinking if people generally cared more about defense.

“Unlike Gasol, he’s not the hub of his team’s offense. Unlike Cousins, you wouldn’t give him the ball on the block and expect a bucket or a double-team. Unlike Towns, defenders are not chasing him out to the 3-point line. Gobert has improved significantly as a screener and a finisher, though, and nobody is more imposing than him around the basket.”

That last line that “nobody is more imposing than him around the basket” rings the most true to me out of everything. True, Rudy doesn’t have the same moves or skillset as some of the marquee big men in the league, but he’s a different player all of his own and a dominant one at that.

His catching and control around the basket have improved significantly this year and that has helped him to be much more solid offensively as Rudy now makes his hay at the rim on both ends of the floor.

Lastly, some fans may dismiss Rudy’s latest hot streak and claim that since some of his stats such as scoring or rebounding aren’t as high as other centers in the league, he cannot possibly be the best one in the NBA. Nevertheless, in my mind it’s hard to describe or encapsulate Gobert’s greatness until you’ve actually watched him.

Gobert does so many things that don’t show up in a box score. Altering shots, causing drivers to dish the ball out, providing lockdown help defense and so much more. We talk about how Rudy contains the opposing centers, but he’s also tasked with being the last line of defense against every member of the opposing team, and he does a terrific job.

For any of you who might be scoffing at Rudy’s declaration, I challenge you to watch him in action. From Marc Gasol to DeMarcus Cousins to Hassan Whiteside, Gobert has frustrated and outplayed each of them in games this season. If he’s able to consistently shut down the best of the best, wouldn’t that solidify his argument that he is, indeed, the best?

Of course, as Tim MacMahon stated and Rudy Gobert himself admitted, the challenge will be keeping it up for the whole season. Being the best center for seven games is a lot different than being it for 82.

Nevertheless, as the only Jazz starter to be healthy for all of Utah’s contests so far this season, Gobert has gained confidence and is shouldering a huge load for this team. If he continues his defensive dominance and ever-improving offense, he’s going to start to really turn some heads.

Gobert considers himself the best center in the league, his recent play backs it up and all of us in Jazz Nation are 100 percent behind him.

And if he keeps this up, a lot of people that formerly doubted him will have no choice but to #TakeNote. Make no mistake about it, Rudy Gobert is the real deal.

All stats courtesy of NBA.com

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