Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Photo by: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Going into this offseason, the biggest weakness and need experts and analysts said the Jazz needed was a secondary scorer. Utah with the apparent primary scorer being Donovan Mitchell last year struggled to score at times when he was off the court or even heavily guarded. Utah did not address this at all this offseason, the only addition to the roster they made was drafting Grayson Allen. Allen is not at all in line to be the secondary scorer just like the roster nothing will change when it comes to who is scoring the ball. Last year Utah’s secondary scorer was Rudy Gobert, this year the Jazz’s secondary scorer will be Rudy Gobert. Rudy Gobert will produce even more than previous years 13.5 ppg mark.
This offseason the NBA made an emphasis on freedom of movement. This emphasis means that defenders will not be able to wrap or grab a player on the perimeter or when they are rolling to the basket. This is huge for the Jazz if you go back and look at the film from the Houston Rockets series almost every time Rudy would come out to set a screen he’d have a tough time rolling to the bucket. It’s a common defensive strategy that takes the effectiveness of a pick and rolls down, especially when they play small ball.
Yes, Jazz fans, the pick, and roll; Jerry Sloan, John Stockton, and Karl Malone. Utah isn’t just limited to two players; Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles all are capable of being the ball handler in a pick and roll offense. They each have excellent ability to read the screen and be able to shoot a three if a defender slips under, or blow past a defender if they try to fight through or go over the top of the screen. If Gobert is the one setting the screen, it will more than likely be a good one. Metrics have shown that Rudy Gobert is one of the best screening players in the NBA. Without the ability to hold or grab him while he’s rolling there will be nothing except hardwood between him and basket. Unless someone rotates, which opens up a perimeter shot from one of the other players including Derrick Favors, who has reportedly worked on a three-point shot.
Utah’s old bread and butter play are back in Utah, and it will be tough for teams to stop this. And Utah has built a roster that can run it and pose even more problems for opponents. Favors, Sefolosha, and Crowder all can be placed in the same position as Gobert. However, these players have another weapon, popping. Utah will be able to run the pick and pop also well as the pick and roll.
Utah in the preseason boasted a 5-0 record, granted two of those opponents were against Australian teams, but during the preseason Rudy Gobert led the NBA in FG% amongst players who played more than 20 min per game and made appearances in multiple contests. This only shows the increase of freedom of movement that Gobert enjoyed during this time. Gobert was able to get lots of looks in which he successfully made at or near the rim. Gobert in the preseason shot over 20% better than he did in the regular season last year. It is a small sample size and against at times inferior opponents. But look for Rudy Gobert to convert his shots at a higher percentage this season meaning more points per game from him this season. Utah will continue to have Gobert as the second leading scorer on the team. Also, he will see an increase when it comes to actual scoring due to more natural opportunities to score