Rudy Gobert has the kind of physical attributes that make scouts drool: a 7-foot-2 frame, a 7-foot-8 wingspan, a 9-foot-7 standing reach. And in five years, the Utah Jazz center has the loftiest of ambitions for himself: become an all-star, win an NBA championship.
But right now, the rookie is just trying to get off the bench.
"Patience patience patience," Gobert tweeted after Monday night’s game against the Pistons, a blowout loss in which he saw action only in the final two minutes.
After averaging eight points and five rebounds a game in the French League last season, Gobert’s first NBA campaign has been marked by infrequent playing time and two trips to D-League Bakersfield.
"Of course it’s not easy," the center said. "I think it’s what I expected. I kew it wasn’t going to be easy. I just have to work and get better."
Even in limited action, though, Gobert has caught the attention of others.
"They got a kid sitting over there that I really like, Rudy Gobert, who’s really, really long," said Memphis coach Dave Joerger, whose Grizzlies play in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. "I think he’s very athletic and he’s got a good motor. And I think as time goes on, he’s going to learn to play the NBA game."
Gobert is intriguing, but for now at least, still largely a mystery.
Even on a struggling Jazz team, the center hasn’t been able to win many minutes.
"I mean, who you gonna play him in front of?" Jazz coach Ty Corbin asked a reporter when the question of Gobert’s playing time was posed Tuesday.
While Corbin has extolled the virtues of getting rookie point guard Trey Burke extended minutes, allowing him to learn from game situations, those opportunities have been sparse for Gobert.
"Putting a guy in a bad spot, where he’s just on the floor looking bad, it does nobody any good," Corbin said. "Because the guy knows it. Everybody around him knows it. And people in this league, they have an advantage, they’re not going to pull back from the guy. They will embarrass a guy, bury him. I don’t think that’s good for any young guy to put him through. … I don’t think Rudy’s that way. He does some things on the floor to help himself and help us. I just want to make sure I put him in a spot where he has a chance to be successful."
Corbin said the young Frenchman needs to get stronger and is still working to understand his role within the offense.
"Actually, I think in some ways, he’s ahead of where we thought he would be," Corbin said. "He was so raw, especially offensively. He does somethings defensively that can help, but you’ve got to play both sides."
The coach added, "I like him. I like what he’s done. I like his growth this year. He has a lot more growing to do."
Gobert, meanwhile, said he believes he’s making strides in his game. He’s added seven pounds this season and said he feels more comfortable on the floor.
"I think I’m more a threat offensively. In practice I can do some post moves now," he said. "I feel better offensively. I think in the game it’s more about confidence. I don’t want to do something because if I do it bad coach is gonna take me out. … When you play like this it’s not easy. I think it’s just confidence, offensively."
Gobert is making plans for the offseason, including joining the Jazz in Las Vegas for summer league and playing on his national team.
"I’m just going to work," he said.
Work and wait.
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