Jazz's Rudy Gobert Enters NBA's COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - OCTOBER 20: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz looks on during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 20, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols Thursday, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

The 29-year-old Frenchman is in the midst of his ninth NBA campaign and is averaging 15.5 points, 15.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

In 2019-20, Gobert averaged 15.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and was named an All-Star for the first time.

The 2019-20 season was suspended in March 2020 when Gobert was the first known NBA player to test positive for COVID-19. Gobert recovered and returned to play in the season restart. He followed that up last season with averages of 14.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and a career-high 2.7 blocks per game, winning his third NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gobert enjoyed a career year in 2018-19 that saw him average 15.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in addition to winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.

Although he was limited to 56 games in 2017-18 because of injury, Gobert finished with averages of 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

Gobert missed 26 games in 2017-18, but that was sandwiched between two seasons that saw him appear in 81 contests.

His first true breakout came in 2016-17 when he put up 14.0 points, 12.8 rebounds and an NBA-leading 2.6 blocks per game en route to being named to the All-NBA Second Team and the All-Defensive First Team.

The Denver Nuggets selected Gobert with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft before quickly trading him to Utah.

Gobert rapidly became a strong defensive presence and developed into an offensive threat for the Jazz in recent years as well.

The Jazz will struggle to replace his production, since they have little quality depth to speak of at the moment.

Udoka Azubuike and Eric Paschall are the top candidates to take on additional minutes while Gobert is out. Veteran backup center Hassan Whiteside is currently in concussion protocols.

Also, there will be added pressure on Utah's talented backcourt to pick up the slack offensively, with fifth-year man Donovan Mitchell and veteran Mike Conley leading the way in that regard.

Although the Jazz may have enough to pick up the offensive slack without Gobert, it doesn't have another healthy big on the roster capable of impacting the game defensively in the manner he does.