Rudy Gobert has been taking hits from all angles recently. When he signed his extension in May, for example, Shaquille O'Neal could hardly believe it.
More recently, Anthony Edwards and Patrick Beverley took their turns roasting him while questioning his status as the best interior defender in the game.
"If I'm Defensive Player of the Year, I'm always guarding the best player no matter what. I'm not roaming," Beverley said. "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 Bogdanovic. You got Rudy Gobert out there guarding Vanderbilt. And every time I hear he's Defensive Player of the Year. So, uh, whatever."
Gobert usually does his best to keep himself out of verbal battles like that, but he did actually defend himself in this case, suggesting that all the criticism is just the result of his greatness.
Donovan Mitchell soon made his own statement on the ordeal, coming to the defense of his friend and teammate.
“He went out there and showed it himself,” said Mitch after their win over the Sixers. “He’s a guy that doesn’t really talk. He kinda goes out there and shows it and tonight he did it against one of the best in the league in Joel. He’s our defensive anchor for a reason. He’s won the award three times for a reason.”
Gobert isn't a particularly flashy player, nor is he loud and rowdy like Beverley or Draymond Green, but his impact on the court is undeniable.
When he's on the floor, the Jazz are a different team defensively and it's because of Gobert's presence that they've consistently been among the best teams in the NBA on that end of the floor.
The question is, will Gobert and Mitchell be able to find success in the playoffs? After two premature exits, it's no surprise that some are having their doubts.
Gobert, 29, is hoping this is the year things change.