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Key Stats: 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 points
This was supposed to be a season of rebuilding and discovery, right? If in fact it was, Rudy Gobert's role and playing time was, in a word, curious.
The 21-year-old rookie from France, who stands 7'2" and boasts the league's longest wingspan at 7'9", averaged just 9.6 minutes in 46 appearances this season.
Sure, his offense is more raw than a Monday night on the USA Network, but having him on the floor would've done more good than harm—in both the short and long term.
Minutes against NBA competition and among teammates with whom he may spend the next several years could've expedited Gobert's development. After all, experience is the best teacher.
And for instant benefits, look no further than this eight-minute highlight reel of the big man dunking, blocking and rebounding his way into the hearts of Jazz fans from France to the Salt Lake Valley.
Whenever he'd check into a game, those fans would perk up, anticipating his first swat or dunk. Gobert typically delivered in short order. On the season, he averaged 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes. And among players with at least 100 minutes, Gobert's block percentage of 7.4 was second only to Cole Aldrich.
He's already a good rebounder too. In that same group (players who logged at least 100 minutes this season), Gobert was seventh in total rebounding percentage at 20.6.
A lot of that production is a natural result of his insane size, but that's not the only reason. The guy played with more consistent passion and energy than a lot of the rotation players. Click on the highlight reel up there if you don't believe me.
Sure seems like someone with that size and attitude could've helped the very worst defensive team in the NBA. Certainly, a few more minutes of Gobert could've helped the Jazz post a better defensive rating than the putrid 109.1 points per 100 possessions they allowed this season.
But we are left to wonder yet again.
Hopefully, Gobert made strides in practice and will continue to improve over the summer. According to Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune, Gobert said his focus in the offseason would be, "Getting stronger, my legs and all my body. Getting stronger, quicker. … You got to be tough, especially me. I’m a center."
If he can do that, and Utah hires a coach who can work Gobert into the rotation, we could be seeing a lot more highlight blocks and dunks from the big Frenchman in 2014-15.