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Was Gobert robbed?



Rudy Gobert will have to wait before being voted the NBA’s best defenseman for the fourth time, since the trophy was awarded to Marcus Smart.

The disappointment is undoubtedly important for Rudy Gobert. Elected defender of the year in the NBA three times, the French pivot will have to wait to be rewarded a fourth time, and join the legendary Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo on the list. On Monday evening, the NBA announced that the trophy was awarded to Marcus Smart, the Boston Celtics point guard. Gobert finished third in the ballot, behind Mikal Bridges (Phoenix).

This result has caused a lot of talk, and is not unanimous, of course. “Absolutely no one in the league believes Marcus Smart is as good a defenseman as Rudy Gobert, says NBA analyst Nate Duncan. That’s why Rudy has a supermax contract and Smart makes $19 million a year. » Especially since it is certain that Gobert, who is often mocked for his lack of offensive contribution, is not paid more than 40 million dollars for his contribution in attack.

So why was Smart preferred to Gobert? Probably because the voters (a panel of journalists) wanted change. The Frenchman had already been rewarded in 2018, 2019 and 2021, which undoubtedly served him. This is what he himself anticipated last week in an interview with NBA Today. ” It’s human: when someone does the same thing year after year, without losing regularity, we take it for granted, he had estimated. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but I really felt this season that people were like, ‘Okay, Rudy is doing this, but let’s see what other people are doing instead. Let’s stop looking at the numbers, let’s stop looking at the influence on the game and go look for more exciting stories elsewhere’. I can’t blame them, even if it’s a bit unfair, because it’s just human. »

To judge the defensive qualities of a player, there are several elements. The feeling, of course, but it is subjective and difficult to translate into figures. And the statistics, the most obvious (defensive rebounds, counters, interceptions) as well as the most advanced (drop in percentage of the direct opponent, drop in skill in the racket for pivots, etc.), which were for the most part in favor by Gobert. ” If someone did what I do and had my influence on the game, but his name was not Rudy Gobert, he would be the favorite for Defender of the Year, without a shadow of a doubt. , also estimated the Frenchman last week. So why should I be penalized for being so consistent season after season? »

Gobert explained it well: individual awards are given by reporters in the NBA, and reporters like to tell stories, especially when they’re new. In this case, the “storytelling” was as follows: that Gary Payton is no longer the only playmaker voted best defender in the league, while the trophy has been awarded for 40 years. It is also the former Seattle player who was invited to present the trophy to Marcus Smart.

However, can we speak of injustice for Gobert? In a league increasingly oriented towards the “small-ball”, there is nothing illogical in rewarding a player capable of defending against the opposing high scorer, when it is a point guard or a back, which is frequently the case. “It’s a game based on the perimeter (the three-point zone, editor’s note). And for too long we haven’t given these eye-catching Mikal Bridges and Marcus Smart their due.summarizes the journalist Doris Burke, who explains that she voted “for the best defenseman of the best defense in the league (Boston)”. A just return of things?

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