SALT LAKE CITY — The Stifle Tower remains an enduring fixture on the NBA’s annual squad of the best defenders in the league.
On Tuesday, Utah Jazz center and French native Rudy Gobert was named to a fourth consecutive NBA All-Defensive First Team for his 2019-20 efforts.
Throughout the season Gobert ranked third in defensive win shares (4.2) while racking up 49 double-doubles in 2019-20, a mark good enough for fourth overall in the NBA, and leading the league in total rebounds through the regular season with 916.
Gobert, who won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018 and ‘19, was third in voting this year behind winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), and runner-up, Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), who both join Gobert on the All-Defensive First Team.
Rounding out the team is Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Philadelphia 76ers point-forward Ben Simmons.
Regularly praised by opposing coaches for the challenges he presents as far a rim protection is concerned, Gobert was fourth in the league in total blocks for the 2019-20 season, while averaging 15.1 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, earning his first ever All-Star nod along with teammate Donovan Mitchell.
The two made their All-Star debuts in Chicago in February with Gobert wowing during the headlining event of the weekend, scoring 21 points to go with 11 rebounds in just 19 minutes.
Gobert became the first player in the NBA to test positive for the coronavirus on March 11, leading to commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to suspend the NBA season indefinitely.
Eventually the season restarted in Orlando and the Jazz earned the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. They would eventually fall to the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in seven games in the first round, a series in which Gobert averaged 16.9 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
“We came up short, but I have no doubt that we’re going to win a championship,” Gobert said after Game 7. “Might be painful right now but I guarantee that all of us will come back better. I’m going to come back better and we’re going to do anything we can that’s in our power to be a better team next year.”
Though Jazz legends Karl Malone and Mark Eaton were both named to the All-Defensive First Team three times in their respective careers, Gobert becomes the first Jazz player to ever earn the honor four times.
Making up the NBA All-Defensive Second Team: Kawhi Leonard ( L.A. Clippers), Brook Lopez (Bucks), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Patrick Beverley (Clippers) and Eric Bledsoe (Bucks).