Rudy Gobert Our Center of the Future?

One thing you should know about me: I’m a francophile.  (No that’s not what you think… don’t go there!)  Simply put a francophile is someone who is shall we say enamored with anything and everything French, the language, the food, the culture, etc.  It’s not limited to France because there are many French speaking countries but for me it is especially true when France is involved.  I had the opportunity to spend the majority of my two year mission in France.  My love for the country was fully on display during the world cup on my twitter account: Allez les Bleus!

Being a francophile I love Tony Parker’s game, I root for the French National teams (Les Bleus is the colloquial name for the French men’s national teams) in every sport imaginable unless they’re playing the Americans.

I, like many other fans, was beyond ecstatic when I heard the Jazz drafted Rudy.  I’ve long wondered if he selected his jersey number 27 as a constant reminder of where he was selected in the draft.  If you haven’t figured this out about Rudy he’s a very proud individual.  He’s French, I’m pretty sure it’s a requirement as a French citizen.  The great thing about Rudy is he uses his pride constructively as evidenced by Tony Jones summer league notes on his improvement.  Members of “Jazz Twitter” have noticed he sometimes favorites criticism of himself.  It’s not a stretch to suppose he uses it as fuel.

A huge plus for him is he knows how much potential he has and how good he can be.  One doesn’t hear him lamenting about the coaching staff holding him back.  He doesn’t blame anyone, he just puts in work.  Unless you consider him saying he could help last year him complaining… Which I obviously don’t.  I think he was simply putting his opinion out there.  He’s got the confidence one needs to be able to excel at the NBA level.  A confidence and self assurance I’m sure many of us wish we had in ourselves.

As Jazz fans we know that we’ve drafted foreign players before.  In fairly recent Jazz history there has been Ante Tomic (who we’ve never seen neither hide nor hair of) and Enes Kanter are the most recent examples.  With Enes being a number three pick we have to realize he hasn’t been living up to the expectations that comes with being drafted that high.

So what can be said of Rudy that isn’t true of the team’s other international prospects?  We’ve seen his drive to improve.  He’s shown us that he has the Millsap-like drive to grow as a player on his own time.  He seems to have made the leap from fringe-NBA-guy (the way he was described by many last season) to solid backup in on season there’s hope he can make the leap to starting center in year 3.  This of course depends heavily on what happens with Enes this year.  And of course if it also depends on Rudy’s improved performance holding up against stronger competition.

We’ve had a number of glimpses of Rudy’s true potential as a defensive force and his improved touch around the rim on offense.  We’ve seen him make rotations we didn’t see last year.  Both during Summer League play and at the Scrimmage.  Jody Genessy of the Deseret News told us that Gobert was the one player who had most impressed the fans on twitter.  He was also voted to the summer league all 2nd Team.  All this adds up to him being a steal at the 27th spot in the draft.  Grabbing a potential starter at the 27 spot is a Spurs-like move move and one thing is for sure, there are those that are jealous of our selecting Gobert.  Just ask @SmoothHoops, aka Justin Faudree, an avid Nuggets fan who distraught that his team basically handed over Gobert on a silver platter on draft night.

Shifting our focus more to the present just last week I read a very encouraging report from @AntoinePimmel about Gobert from a French site that reports on anything and everything basketball.  His article focused on Gobert’s current stint with the French team there was a length quote which I’ve translated here:

“I have everything to prove and I will try to win my place on the team.  Logically, plus there have also been some injuries, which will give me some more time on the floor.  But I was ready for the competition with Alexis, Kevin (Séraphin) or even Joakim (Noah).  The injuries don’t change much.  I already wanted to prove that I deserve to play.  This will make the choice easier for the coaching staff but my mentality hasn’t changed I want to prove that I belong here.”

A few notes here to put this in context: Alexis Ajinca and Kevin Séraphin aren’t names most basketball fans will know.  Suffice it so say they’re experienced big men who play for the French national team.  Joakim Noah’s tie to the French team is his father Yannick Noah, the famous tennis player/musician.  All quotations translated from the original article published here.

So, if we examine this as a whole we see that there the drive, motivation and confidence that I mentioned earlier.  Rudy is driven and I believe he could start for the Jazz.  His need to improve could make him a very good find.  Personally I think he was a steal at the 27th spot and I’ve been known to give people who doubted him when we drafted him crap for their lack of faith.

Rudy wants to compete against the best of the best to prove his worth.  National media payed close attention to the Jazz during Summer League and got to see Rudy’s stellar play firsthand.  He’s now on the national radar even if it’s on a small scale.  I’ll be frank Gobert has pretty much replaced Kanter in my heart.  I wouldn’t mind trading Kanter if Gobert is able to prove himself this season.

I’ll leave you with one last juicy Rudy quote: “I just want to play and to dominate.”  The future is bright my friends, the future is bright.

Written by Jared Barker

About the author

Grant Bagby

Since moving to Utah in 2005, I have changed from following all sports in D.C/Virginia to following all sports in Utah. I am a Chicago Bulls fan first (Born and raised by my father), but I am also a hardcore Jazz fan with 7 years of being a season ticket holder under my belt. I started TornBySports to write about the BYU/Utah Rivalry after Max Hall ran his mouth.