The Utah Jazz outscored the Minnesota Timberwolves by 31 points in the second half en route to a 136-104 road win on Wednesday.
After the game, Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards of the Timberwolves provided takes on the defensive merits and reputation of Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
From Beverley, per T-Wolves beat writer Dane Moore:
"If I'm Defensive Player of the Year, I'm always guarding the best player no matter what. I'm not roaming. It's no discredit to Royce O'Neale or any of the others on their team, but if I'm Defensive Player of the Year, I'm not guarding Royce O'Neale. I'm guarding Mike Conley, I'm guarding Donovan Mitchell, I'm guarding [Bojan} Bogdanovic. You got Rudy Gobert out there guarding [Jarred} Vanderbilt. And every time I hear he's Defensive Player of the Year. So, uh, whatever."
Chris Hine of the Star-Tribune provided Edwards' comments:
Chris Hine @ChristopherHine
Anthony Edwards said the best rim protector in the league is Kristaps Porzingis. On Rudy Gobert, Ant was honest ... <br><br>'Anytime I go against Porzingis, I don’t get no layups. I don’t get why we couldn’t finish on Rudy Gobert. He don’t put no fear in my heart. I don’t know why."
Edwards and Beverley aren't the first players to criticize Gobert's defense in some way.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, who was the runner-up to Gobert for last year's Defensive Player of the Year award, touted his own defensive versatility while noting that the big man largely goes up against opponents his own size.
In a conversation with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, Simmons said Gobert is "great down there in the paint, but he's not guarding everybody."
"He guarded me in Utah. And I had 42. And apparently, I'm not a scorer, so it is what it is."
Simmons also doesn't have Gobert on his top-five defender list:
NBA Central @TheNBACentral
Ben Simmons doesn’t think Rudy Gobert is a top 5 defender <br><br>“I play ball, I’m looking at guys who can guard 1 through 5.”<br>(🎥 <a href="https://twitter.com/TheBallRealm?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheBallRealm</a> ) <br><br> <a href="https://t.co/chKOtcaIjr">pic.twitter.com/chKOtcaIjr</a>
On the flip side, Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner. He was also tied for the league lead with 1.7 defensive win shares entering Wednesday, per Basketball-Reference.
ESPN's Kirk Goldsberry showcased just how dominant Gobert was last season too:
Kirk Goldsberry @kirkgoldsberry
Rudy Gobert's defense in one graph. <br><br>He led the league in contested shots this season, AND he also allowed the lowest efficiency in the NBA among 160 players who were the closest defender on at least 500 shots this season. <a href="https://t.co/vcxTYocdeq">pic.twitter.com/vcxTYocdeq</a>
Jake Lee of Salt Lake City Hoops also wrote a lengthy breakdown of Gobert's defensive skills last May in which he offered cases dispelling notions that the big man can't defend on the perimeter and guard players one through five.
Regardless of how one feels on Gobert's defense, it wasn't the primary reason for Utah's dominant win Wednesday.
Ultimately, Minnesota's defense was problematic as the Jazz shot 56.8 percent from the field and made 25 three-pointers. Donovan Mitchell led the way with 36 points.