For Rudy Gobert, the biggest question in the next month is if he can finally come away with the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
But first things first: The Jazz center was named Wednesday to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team for the second straight year, and the votes appear to favor his case for the individual honor being announced in June.
Gobert, who averaged 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks this season, was named one of the top five defenders in the league along with Anthony Davis, Victor Oladipo, Robert Covington and Jrue Holliday. He was the top vote-getter among all players, earning 94 of 100 possible first-team votes.
The 25-year-old had 192 points in the voting process, trailed by New Orleans forward Davis with 163 points. It’s notable, considering Davis and second-team center Joel Embiid from Philadelphia are Gobert’s fellow finalists for Defensive Player of the Year, which will be presented on June 26. Davis had 73 first-team votes. While Embiid had 90 points, leading all second-team selections, he had only four first-team votes.
Gobert structured his case by propping up the NBA’s second-best regular season defense this year. With Gobert on the floor, the Jazz allowed just 97.7 points per 100 possessions. When he returned from a pair of early-season knee injuries, the 7-foot-1 big man propelled Utah to a 30-8 finish to the season to make the playoffs and advance to the second round.
The biggest critique of Gobert is his absences: He played just 56 games this year — fewer games than any previous DPOY honoree in any non-lockout season. Two voters for All-Defensive teams left him off the ballot completely.
Gobert is just the third Jazzman in team history to make two All-Defensive teams, joining Karl Malone and Mark Eaton, who both made three teams.
Other Jazzmen received some recognition: Ricky Rubio earned two votes, while Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors each got a second-team vote.
NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM
Players with vote totals
C Rudy Gobert, Utah • 192
F/C Anthony Davis, New Orleans • 163
G Victor Oladipo, Indiana • 136
G Jrue Holiday, New Orleans • 105
G Robert Covington, Philadelphia • 90
C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia • 90
F Draymond Green, Golden State • 86
F/C Al Horford, Boston • 85
G Dejounte Murray, San Antonio • 80
G/F Jimmy Butler, Minnesota • 79