In a time where the NBA has transitioned from a possession-based offense to a high-octane, volume shooting style of play, it seems unlikely that a 7-footer from France would be able to make this mark on the league.

Well, Rudy Gobert is no ordinary player in the NBA.

Gobert has transformed himself from a feel-good G-League story to arguably the most dominant defensive player of his generation throughout his nine-year career. He’s won three defensive player of the year awards since he entered the league, tied for the second-most all-time.

But the awards and accolades haven’t stopped.

Gobert continued to climb the ranks of the NBA’s greatest when he blocked a shot in the third quarter of Monday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. It was the 1,294th block of his career, moving him to No. 50 all-time in league history. He also ranks 16th in NBA history with 2.2 blocks per game.

“Growing up, I never would have thought my name would be up there,” Gobert said postgame. “Looking back at the journey, all the hard work and dedication and being able to be mentioned with all those great names, it’s amazing. It’s only going up from here. … It’s a great blessing.”

Gobert is No. 3 all-time in career blocks for the Jazz, sitting 84 behind Andrei Kirilenko and 1,768 behind one of the all-time greats in Mark Eaton. He’s sixth in active players in career blocks, sitting behind Dwight Howard (13), Serge Ibaka (27), Brook Lopez (36), DeAndre Jordan (38), and Anthony Davis (46).

While many will look at Gobert and limit his defensive greatness to just blocks, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Gobert is as complete a defensive player as there is in the league when combining his size and length with his athleticism and intelligence.

“A lot of times, he doesn’t get to decide who he guards. … He’s part of a larger scheme, so if he’s not guarding somebody, that’s on me,” head coach Quin Snyder said of Gobert. “He can’t guard everybody. … He tries to, and I’d like for him too. I think he’s, without getting into all the analytics and advanced stats, I think he’s our best isolation defender and the best rim protector in the league.”

When pressed regarding what makes his defensive skillset so valuable, he understands that basketball is not a 1-on-1 game. It’s about a team effort, so why defend just one player when you can change the game’s outcome by defending multiple players?

“When I’m out there, I’m not guarding one guy, I’m guarding the whole team,” Gobert said. “It’s hard to understand for some guys. … They get used to just being able to impact one guy at a time. I’m trying to guard a whole team.”

Despite Gobert’s trophies and Snyder’s — one of the most well-respected coaches in the league — comments, there are still quite a few players who try to discredit what Gobert does on the court.

Without ever getting into much detail, Gobert elects to have his play speak for itself. He understands that with greatness comes people who will continuously try to tear him down — it’s a good thing he doesn’t care.

“If you’re the best in the world at something, people become insecure and try to discredit you,” Gobert said. “People are going to try to discredit what I do, what we do as a team. … It’s been the same my whole career. I’m just going to keep winning awards, winning trophies, and hopefully help my team win something bigger than that.”


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