Rudy Gobert Named 2020-21 Defensive Player of the Year

On the heels of a 112-109 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, a match that came down to the last possessions, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had an extra reason to celebrate.

Gobert, the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, was announced Wednesday as the 2020-21 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. This marks the third time that Gobert has won the award in the past four years.

Gobert received 84 of the 100 first place votes and finished with 464 total points. A distant second was Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons, who finished with 15 first place votes and 287 total points. 

Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green and Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo also received votes.

For Gobert, this is a historic accomplishment. Gobert is only the fourth player in NBA history to win the award three times, joining Dwight Howard (3), Ben Wallace (4), and Dikembe Mutomubo (4), the latter two of whom are Hall of Famers. 

Gobert is one of the best shot-blocking big men and one of the most athletic as well, blessed with elite explosiveness and lateral agility.

The Frenchman led the league in defensive rebounds per game (10.1) and total defensive rebounds (720). He also led the league in total blocked shots (190) and ranked second in the league in defensive win shares, which accounts for a player’s defensive impact on his team’s chances of victory.

These numbers helped the Jazz finish third overall in defensive rating in the league (107.5) and first in record (52-20).

“It’s unbelievable,” Gobert said of winning the award three times. “When I started basketball as I kid, if somebody would have told me that I was going to be Defensive Player of the Year, I would have never believed them, let alone three times.”