A mini-revolution took place around the NBA at the beginning of April. Often critical of Rudy Gobert, the microcosm of the league has found in Candace Parker, legend of the female version of the NBA, a spokesperson for the French pivot, in turn accused of being the “patient zero” of the Covid for the league, mocked for his tears at the announcement of an All-Star Game selection and chastised because he did not deserve his contract.
The conversation on the set of TNT had given this in essence:
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Candace Parker:I have a question for you: should Rudy Gobert have more than 7 shots per game?“
Shaquille O’Neal: Obviously.
Dwyane Wade: I agree, I don’t understand how he can only shoot 6 times in today’s NBA.
O’Neal: He should have 6 systems for him and six double-steps, that’s 12 shots.
Parker: When he rolls to the basket and he has a small on him, why shoot 3 points? I would be tired of defending at its place.”
Four shots on average: Gobert forgotten?
Seeing Shaquille O’Neal, the one who had precisely pointed out Gobert’s emoluments, speaking well of the latter, was a surprise. Is this however the witness of an evolution of the glances on the one who was beaten by Marcus Smart in the race for the trophy of defender of the year? In recent weeks, and a difficult start to the Playoffs for Utah, led 2-1 by Dallas, however deprived of Luka Doncic who only accentuated the noise, the debate focuses on the number of balls received by the French during the matches.
Donovan Mitchell assists Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Credit: Getty Images
Take for example the first three meetings of the series against Dallas. Gobert shot once (!) in Game 1, five times in Game 2 and six times last night in Game 3. Note also that during this defeat of the Jazz, the pivot did not miss the slightest opportunity (6/6 and even 3/3 in throws for 15 points). The sample is tiny but never had Gobert shot so little on average in the Playoffs (4.4 in 2018 for his first appearance). He had never scored so low either (9.3 points).
Mitchell-Gobert, frying on the line
Most questions center around the Mitchell-Gobert relationship. Since he is the one who has the ball most often, the first should often be able to find the second. Their agreement had continued to evolve positively between 2017, the year of the arrival of the back in the NBA, and 2020. Since then, there has been frying on the line. Mitchell had openly regretted Gobert’s attitude at the start of the Covid wave. Consequence or not, the number of passes from the first to the second is decreasing, from 5.8 in 2019-2020 to 2.3 this season.
“People are looking for anything to divide usrecently tried to extinguish Gobert with TNT. What we have been through for the past three years, the Covid… We are aware of all that. We know the rumors aren’t going to stop. We gotta put it all on mute.” Still, the complicity between the two is not obvious. In many ways, the Playoffs of Rudy Gobert are painful to watch.
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Are there mitigating circumstances for Donovan Mitchell and his partners in the “Rudy Gobert shooting” file? In short, does he deserve more shots as defended by Parker, O’Neal and Wade? His percentage (71% in the regular season, the best of his career, 66% on the Playoffs) would push to say yes. But another statistical column gives a different reading.
Rudy Gobert and his Jazz teammates dominated the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the 2022 NBA playoffs first round
Credit: Getty Images
With 1.7 ball lost per game, Rudy Gobert does not seem to be a “ball” for his team but he actually loses the ball on 21% of the balls he touches. Only Danuel House does worse in Utah. So the chicken or the egg? Does the Frenchman lack quality of hand because his partners do not allow him enough to work on his technique and his confidence? Or don’t they give him the ball for fear of what he’s going to do with it? Gobert is neither a very good finisher nor an excellent passer.
Still, there would probably be better things to do with a player like him on the pitch. Depending on how Game 4 of the series against Dallas goes (this Saturday night at 10:30 p.m.), the future of the Salt Lake City franchise could get a little darker. Depending on the number of passes received by Gobert, questions around his complementarity with Mitchell could be heard a little more. Many around the NBA believe that this Playoffs campaign could well be the last of the Jazz in this configuration.
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