Mention Rudy Gobert and the first thing that comes to mind is his defense. The Jazz center is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and may well win the award again this season, Utah has a defensive net rating of just 92.2 when Gobert is on the court after the All-Star break, 14.5 points per 100 possessions better than when he sits.
However, Gobert can provide offense, too — he rolls to the rim, has soft hands, and knows how to finish at the rim.
Meaning he dunks. A lot.
In the second quarter of Utah’s win against Phoenix on Monday, Gobert finished off an alley-oop from Donovan Mitchell and it was Gobert’s 270th dunk of the season, setting an NBA single-season record (Dwight Howard held the record t 269 from his 2007-08 season; this stat has only been tracked since the 1997-98 season). Gobert averaged 3.7 dunks per game, just finishing plays around the rim as defenses focus on Mitchell, Joe Ingles, or can’t anticipate the passing of Ricky Rubio.
Gobert finished with five more dunks in the game as the Jazz almost had their own private dunk contest against the Suns’ interior defense. Gobert finished with 27 points and got the Gatorade shower for it.
Gobert isn’t going to be the only person passing Howard’s old record this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has 262 dunks on the season. The race for most dunks this season is not over.
We just know it’s going at a record pace.
The Sacramento Kings won’t be a playoff team this season, but they are a feel-good story and we are poised to watch them rise up in the Western Conference for years to come.
Part of that surprising success has been the emergence of De’Aaron Fox as a leader and a real first option in just his second year in the NBA. He’s already one of the fastest players in the league, but appears that Fox could be a contestant in next year’s dunk contest if need be.
Late in Sacramento’s win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday, Fox threw down a windmill dunk on a breakaway that was something to behold.
Check out the video above and tell me he shouldn’t represent the Kings in the contest next season.
Kelly Oubre has a lot of tantalizing raw talent. He’s young, energetic and feisty.
But just as it appeared as his game was rounding into form, Oubre – who averaged 20 points and two steals in 12 games since moving into the starting lineup – will get shut down.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. will undergo a minor procedure on his left thumb and miss the rest of the season, league sources told ESPN.
Oubre is expected to make a full recovery in four to six weeks, sources said.
This could be a blessing in disguise for Oubre, who’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. He ends his season on a high note on the court. There’s no opportunity for regression to the mean. This also isn’t an injury that will last long into the offseason.
The 23-year-old Oubre is a versatile defender. When his 3-pointer is falling, he looks really good. In a league that can’t get enough productive wings, he should draw a solid contract.
The Suns didn’t meet with Jimmer Fredette just for fun.
Arizona Sports 98.7 FM:
The Phoenix Suns are signing Jimmer Fredette through the rest of the season with a team option for 2019-20, per 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro.
Fredette is a relatively high-profile signing because he scored a lot of points at BYU eight years ago and fills a great-white-hope narrative to some.
He’s also a 30-year-old who hasn’t played in the NBA in three years and faced questions about his athleticism even when younger. Don’t count on much.
Fredette’s season just ended in China, where he was dominating. But his high-usage style doesn’t translate cleanly to the NBA.
Fredette won’t change the course of the Suns’ season. They are and will remain one of the NBA’s worst teams. Though they need a point guard, especially with Tyler Johnson injured, Fredette hasn’t shown the playmaking ability to handle that position regularly.
At best, Fredette entertains late in a lost season and gives himself a chance to earn a role next season. The team option gives Phoenix upside if Fredette pans out at no additional cost if he doesn’t.
At worst, he interferes with the development of younger Suns over their final 10 games. That seems more likely.
Jimmer Fredette remains a fascination because he scored a ton at BYU eight years ago and… other reasons.
He has been lighting it up in China, and his season there just ended. Now, the former No. 10 pick could return to the NBA after three years away.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Phoenix still needs another point guard, and the 6-foot-2 Fredette looks like one. But he hasn’t shown the playmaking to play point guard regularly. He’s better, and sometimes even effective, off the ball.
Fredette could have stuck in the NBA with a different attitude. His long-distance shooting was an asset.
But he’s also now 30 years old. A new approach likely won’t be enough. His shortcomings, particularly defensively, will be even more pronounced as his athleticism has declined.
The Suns are bad and will remain bad, with or without Fredette. But their younger players have shown signs of progress lately. Fredette’s high-usage style could interfere with their development.
It’s hard to see the upside here other than a brief uptick in attention.