Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz blocks Marcus Morris Sr. of the Los Angeles Clippers to the buzzer in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round Playoff Series at Vivint Smart Home Arena on June 8, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Getty Images via AFP)
NEW YORK – Utah center Rudy Gobert was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday, the third time the French Jazz great man has won the award.
Gobert, who also won the award in the 2017-18 season and in 2018-19, is the fourth player to win the award at least three times, joining Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace – both of whom have won it four times. – and Dwight Howard who won it three times.
The 2.16m (7ft 1in) player dubbed the “Stifling Tower” received 84 votes for the top spot and earned 464 points from a global panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters.
In his eighth NBA season, Gobert topped the league in defensive rebounds per game with 10.1, total defensive rebounds with 720 and fully blocked shots with 190.
He placed second in shots blocked per game (2.70) and had six games with at least 15 defensive rebounds and eight games with five or more blocks.
“It takes team effort, mental toughness, hard work and dedication,” Gobert told broadcaster TNT as the award was announced ahead of the night’s playoff game between the Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns.
TNT released a video of Gobert surprised with the trophy in his locker cheering on his teammates.
“It’s been a great year,” he said, “but we have a higher goal and that is to win a championship.”
Australian Philadelphia 76ers goaltender Ben Simmons was second with 287 points (15 votes for first place).
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year, finished third with 76 points.
Players were awarded five points for each first place vote, three points for each second place vote, and one point for each third place vote.
The Jazz led the Los Angeles Clippers 1-0 in their Western Conference second-round playoff best-of-seven after a 112-109 victory on Tuesday.
Gobert made a key and characteristic contribution to this victory with a big block from a three-point attempt from Marcus Morris as time went on.
Gobert said recently that this is the kind of contribution he thinks are expected of him.
“I come every night trying to be the best I can be for this team and anchor this team defensively,” he said.
Behind Gobert, Utah finished third in the NBA in defensive standings and second in field goal percentage of its opponents (44.7).
The solid defense helped propel the Jazz to a 52-20 regular season record and seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Selected as an NBA All-Star for the second time, Gobert has averaged 14.3 points and 13.5 rebounds in 71 games this season.
He led the NBA in total rebounds (960) and also hit an NBA high of 67.5% on the court.
“The things Rudy does are unique, and he’s a stabilizing force, especially on the defensive end,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
Gobert finished third in voting for the 2020 award won by Giannis Antetokounmpo – after a season in which Gobert was in the spotlight early for shedding light on the emerging coronavirus pandemic by manipulating reporters’ recorders to be him- even diagnosed with Covid-19.
He then donated $ 500,000 to support Covid relief efforts and in December he signed a contract extension with the Jazz worth $ 205 million over five years.
The 28-year-old, who was the 27th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, gave his mother credit for making possible what has become a brilliant NBA career.
“She sacrificed a lot so that I could do what I love,” he said. “I grew up in a small town in France, I wasn’t really supposed to be here.
“If you had asked me when I first started basketball if I was going to win Defensive Player of the Year, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Three of them, it’s just amazing. “
France Media Agency
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