Gobert proving poll results dead wrong with one major revelation

The likely Defensive Player of the Year is proving once again how incredibly valuable he is.
Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves
Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

When Rudy Gobert was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in July of 2022, some were so bold as to call it "the worst trade in NBA history." While that is a big statement, the Wolves did give up a lot of assets in that deal, so the train of thought at least makes sense. When Rudy put up an average season last year and Minnesota was ousted in the first round of the playoffs, many were triumphantly beating their chests.

A lot of people have shown themselves to take joy in rooting for the downfall of Gobert, which in and of itself is rather interesting. Rudy is far from the most polarizing player in the NBA, but many fans have bought in to the notion that he is not as good as they had been led to believe. The Utah Jazz's repeated early exits in the playoffs perhaps contributed to this, along with the belief that Rudy was "getting played off the floor" in those exits.

Incredibly, this mindset has even spilled over into Gobert's NBA peers. In a recently conducted player survey that takes place annually, 13.6% of players in the association voted Rudy as the league's most overrated player, earning him the top spot in the category. There is little real explanation for these results, but Gobert himself guessed that he simply "triggers a lot of these guys."

"In their eyes, I'm more like the odd guy from France that's winning a lot of awards, and it can bother people," said Rudy. "I impact the games in a very unique way. It's maybe not as cool or not as flashy as some other guys, so it's sometimes harder for them to respect that." In a lot of ways, I believe Gobert is right on the money with his assessment.

Flashy and highlight-reel worthy plays are what inundate all of our timelines, as well as draw in more casual viewers. So it makes sense that Gobert, who is not necessarily always a "stat sheet stuffer" and his game feel a bit more distant to the average basketball viewer. But when it comes to his fellow NBA players? There is no excuse there.

Rudy Gobert is quelling his doubters by fueling the NBA's best defense

Regardless of the outside noise, Rudy has been putting his money where his mouth is recently. With fans and talking heads shouting how overrated he is, Gobert has gone to work and has dominated at the defensive end all season long, anchoring the NBA's top-ranked statistical defense. He is the prohibitive favorite to take home the Defensive Player of the Year award for a fourth time, which would make him just the third player to ever achieve that feat.

Coming into their first round series with the Phoenix Suns, many were dead set on picking the Timberwolves to be eliminated early. After all, Phoenix had beaten Minnesota in all three of their regular season meetings, and the doubt that the Wolves' high-level defense would completely translate to a playoff setting was palpable.

A lot of hoops are left to be played in that series, but Gobert has done a phenomenal job of changing the narrative around himself and the team just two games in. With the Timberwolves holding a 2-0 series lead, Rudy's presence has been massive and has single-handledly changed the outlook for Minnesota. Offensively, he is screening and rolling efficiently while being aggressive where needed.

Defensively, he is playing chess while the Suns are playing checkers. Getting out on the perimeter and guarding in isolation while playing smart basketball and remaining effective against any switch while playing against the likes of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal has been nothing short of incredible to witness.

We are watching Rudy Gobert dissect the "overrated" narrative in real time in this series. His NBA competitors, fans, and media members can say whatever they would like about him. But his effect on the game, especially with capable and talented teammates surrounding him, is absolutely undeniable.