The Utah Jazz announced Friday that Rudy Gobert has been awarded the “NBA’s Most Valuable Defensive Player Award.” He became the third player in Jazz history to be named Defensive Player of the Year and the third overall, joining Karl Malone (1990) and John Stockton (1992).
Gobert, a 24-year-old Frenchman who entered the NBA as a sixth-round draft pick out of France in 2013, led the NBA in both blocked shots and field-goal percentage defense during the regular season. He had a stunning 108.6 defensive rating, according to research by Basketball-Reference.com. No player in NBA history has averaged less than a defensive rating of 95 over the course of a season.
Of course, there’s more to Gobert’s success than his defensive abilities. In March, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Western Conference playoffs after the Jazz swept the Warriors in the best-of-seven playoff series. Gobert averaged 16.9 points and 11.4 rebounds per game in the series, including 20 points and 13 rebounds in the first game, a 120-115 Jazz victory in which he set a playoff record for rebounds in a game with 20.