The Jazz are confused by Rudy Gobert criticism, but ultimately unfazed
Quin Snyder, Rudy Gobert, Hassan Whiteside and Joe Ingles weigh in on the impact Gobert has on the game and point out how wrong his critics are.
PHILADELPHIA — At this point, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is used to players around the league taking shots at him.
Players like to try to minimize Gobert’s impact on the defensive end of the court by saying that he’s not that good or criticizing his impact on the game. They make fun of his emotions, his actions, his play and just about everything in between.
So what does Gobert think when another player has disparaging things to say about him?
“It’s more funny than anything,” Gobert said. “It’s just funny, but it’s part of it. People are going to try to discredit what I do, what we do as a team. It’s been the same my whole career.
“I’m just going to keep winning awards, winning trophies, and hopefully help my team win something bigger than that.”
Gobert’s three Defensive Player of the Year awards certainly don’t hurt. Gobert need only take a look at those if he needs any reassurance of how much he means to his team and his impact on the league at large.
But he’s also got his teammates and coaches behind him, praising his game and standing up for him.
After the Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves by 32 points on Wednesday night, Patrick Beverley criticized Gobert for not guarding Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the Wolves’ best players, even though Gobert is the reigning DPOY.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder refuted those comments.
“A lot of times he doesn’t get to decide who he guards. He’s part of a larger scheme, so if he’s not guarding somebody, that’s on me,” Snyder said with a smile. “He can’t guard everybody.
“He tries to, and I’d like for him to, because I think he’s — without getting into all the analytics and advanced stats — I think he’s our best isolation defender and the best rim protector in the league.”
If it’s Snyder who is telling Gobert who to defend and the coaching staff coming up with the defensive schemes that have set the center up for success, Gobert is just fine with continuing to follow along, business as usual.
“I tell Quin I’m cool with guarding anyone,” he said as he laughed. “I trust the game plan. When you win by 30 points, the game plan is pretty good.”
Even more so, Gobert points out that winning a single defensive matchup is not his goal. In the hopes of someday winning a title, Gobert knows that being part of a defensive plan in which he is guarding multiple actions and multiple players and is part of a larger interconnected defense is more important than any individual matchup.
“What people need to understand is that we’re not playing a pickup game in the park,” Gobert said, after beating the 76ers on Thursday night in Philadelphia. “It’s not a 1-on-1 game.
“When I’m out there, I’m not guarding one guy, I’m guarding the whole team. It’s hard to understand for some guys; they get used to just being able to impact one guy at a time. I’m trying to guard a whole team.”
As Gobert spoke, his teammate and backup, Hassan Whiteside, sat to his left, nodding his head emphatically, agreeing with everything his teammate was saying.
So the line of questioning turned to Whiteside. Why is it that people don’t like Gobert and continue to take shots at him with postgame comments even after he’s won three DPOYs and is routinely praised by opposing coaches?
Whiteside thinks it’s because Gobert just continues to take it on the chin, and when it seems like players are unable to get under his skin, that makes other players want to try even harder to shake him.
“He’s not really saying anything back,” Whiteside said. “He takes the high road a lot of times. Even now. He’s a little different than me. I would have said something back for sure. … He’s like the quiet guy in the classroom — you’re gonna keep trying to talk to him.”
No matter the reason or the amount of times it happens, the Jazz feel like they have the best defender in the NBA on their team, and they don’t care who likes it or what they say about it.
And if you ask Joe Ingles, the people who are still questioning Gobert need to study the game a little bit more.
“They obviously don’t watch enough basketball,” Ingles said. “If you understand what you’re looking for, it’s clear the impact he makes.”