European basketball was once again the main protagonist in the awards ceremony for the best professionals during the 2020-21 NBA regular season after this Wednesday the French center was chosen as the winner of the Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, from Utah Jazz.
The award was the third he has won since joining the NBA and comes a day after another European center, the Serbian Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, received the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
Gobert, 28, becomes the fourth player to receive the award at least three times during his career, joining Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace and Dwight Howard, who are the only players to have won it at least three times. times. Mutombo and Wallace won it four times each, and Howard won it three.
“It’s unbelievable,” Gobert said of winning the award three times: “When I started playing basketball as a kid, if someone had told me I was going to be defensive player of the year, I would never have believed them, a lot. minus three times. ”
Gobert also said he was grateful to have come so far in a sport that he is also passionate about. The French center finished the regular season with averages of double-doubles with 14.3 points; 13.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks (best mark as a professional).
Utah began his rise to being one of the elite teams in the Western Conference several years ago thanks to a team full of defensive players who connected very well with Gobert’s huge set of special skills, which also has to his credit being the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19. This caused that they began to suspend chain all the sporting competitions in the United States. With other players on the team scoring better, the Jazz have relied more on Gobert to keep the team’s defense at a very high level, although his shooting ability is also good from any position. The formula ended up being successful by concluding the regular season as the fourth best attacking and third best defense in the league, to be the best team in the NBA overall. The Jazz finished with 9 points per 100 possessions by almost three points over their closest competitors Los Angeles Clippers (6.1), whom they are facing in the Western Conference semifinal eliminator with a 1-0 advantage for the Utah team.
Gobert finished with 84 votes for first place and 464 points, followed far behind by Australian point guard Ben Simmons (Philadelphia Sixers), who scored 287 points and was second, while power forward Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors) finished third. after receiving 76 points, although he had no vote for first place.
Center Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat) did receive one for first place, who finished fourth with 31 points, but became the great individual disappointment of the regular season, given that he was expected to have better individual and team performance in the end. .
Simmons, one of the league’s most versatile defenders thanks to his height and impressive athleticism, helped lead the league’s second-best defense, which, in turn, helped Philadelphia claim first place in the East. .
Green, on the other hand, proved that he is still more than capable of making a significant impact on defense after leading the Warriors to the fifth-best defensive rating in the NBA during the regular season.
The NBA has already announced the Sixth Man awards, which were won by Gobert’s teammate, point guard Jordan Clarkson; Most Improved Player, given to power forward Julius Randle (New York Knicks); Coach of the Year, who also stayed in New York with the Knicks when Tom Thibodeau received him, and MVP for Jokic.