Media personality downplays Rudy Gobert's defensive prowess

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

The Minnesota Timberwolves knocked off the Phoenix Suns in the first round in dominating fashion. Although the sixth-seeded Suns were favored, the Wolves took care of business, winning each game by at least six points.

Six Timberwolves averaged double-digits and Sixth Man of the Year, Naz Reid, barely missed the mark, averaging 9.5 points per game in the first round. Fellow reserve, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, made a huge difference. The former first-rounder ranked third on the squad in plus-minus, averaging 12.3 points and 1.8 steals per game.

Aside from the reserves, the starters performed quite well. Anthony Edwards, who received his fair share of praise from the media, led all Wolves averaging 31.0 points per game. Edwards' confidant, Karl-Anthony Towns, returned from injury as his usually-efficient self. The big man knocked down 53.1 percent of his field goals and 52.9 percent of his triples.

One of the more scrutinized players on the roster, Rudy Gobert, increased his scoring total from the regular season in the first round from 14.0 to 15.0 points per game. Additionally, the Defensive Player of the Year favorite led the squad in plus/minus, at plus-15.0.

Despite Gobert's impressive first-round performance, his abilities continued to be devalued. In an appearance on ESPN's First Take, former NFL star Shannon Sharpe slighted the three-time Defensive Player of the Year's best skill—his defense.

Sharpe stated that Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic will make "mincemeat" of Gobert. The media personality doubled down on his take by proposing an outlandish stat line for Jokic. He lamented that the MVP favorite would average 30 points, 30 rebounds, and 10 assists per game against the Timberwolves.

In the first round, against the Los Angeles Lakers, Jokic averaged 28.2 points, 16.2 boards, and 9.8 assists per game. Certainly phenomenal numbers considering Anthony Davis was Jokic's primary defender. However, Davis' defensive hardware cabinet isn't as full as Gobert's. The nine-time All-Star hasn't made an All-NBA Defensive team since 2020.

Not to say Davis is a porous defender—he's unequivocally fantastic—but Gobert and the Wolves' team defense trumps the Lakers'. Gobert is well on his way to winning a fourth Defensive Player of the Year award. He forced his opponents to the lowest efficiency differential in the league. Gobert's matchups shot 6.2 percent worse from the floor when defended by the hulking center.

Gobert is exceptional, but as mentioned, the Timberwolves team defense is special. Minnesota ranked first in the NBA in defensive rating. Gobert and Co. allowed a league-best 106.5 points per game, nearly two points per game less than the second-best defense.

Jokic will get to his spots and score a bevy of points against the Wolves—as he does against every team in the league. Nevertheless, downplaying Gobert's defensive prowess is unwarranted. If there's a singular player selected to defend the Nuggets' big man, it's likely Gobert is the best option out there.