Rudy Gobert Wins Defensive Player Of The Year Award, Victor Wembanyama: ‘Let Him Win It Now’

Rudy Gobert has now won his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award within the last seven years, finishing with 72 first-place votes, while fellow Frenchman Victor Wembanyama, in his rookie year, came in second with 19 votes. 

Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, Shaquille O'Neal

Although 20-year-old, 7-foot-4, Wembanyama missed out on being named this year’s best defensive player, he won Rookie of the Year and will seemingly have many more opportunities to collect DPOY trophies throughout his career.

“Let him win it now, because after that, it’s no longer his turn.” Wembanyama said earlier this season in regards to Gobert winning the award. 

Gobert (2018, 2019, 2021, 2024) is now tied with Dikembe Mutombo (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001) and Ben Wallace (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006), for winning the most Defensive Player of the Year awards in NBA history. 

Although Wembanyama recorded more blocks, 254, (3.6 per game) and deflections (204) than Gobert, who had 162 blocks (2.1 per game) and 124 deflections, the veteran big man led in a few other major categories that voters take into account: contested shots per game (11.0), defensive win shares (5.8), and individual defensive rating (106.6). That is to say, Gobert was one of four players on the Timberwolves, who finished top six in individual defensive rating: Kyle Anderson (105.1), Naz Reid (105.5), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (105.5). To note, all of these players played less than 25 minutes per game except for Gobert, nevertheless, the team’s overall defense efficiency resulted in the Timberwolves leading the NBA in defensive rating (108.4) this season.

On the other hand, Wembanyama, who is only the second rookie in NBA history to lead the league in blocks (Bol Bol; 1985-86), contested the 10th-most shots per game (9.1), had the fifth-most defensive win shares (4.4), and finished with an individual defensive rating of 111.2. That is to say, last year’s first overall pick didn’t have the luxury of having such a well-rounded supporting cast, as the Spurs ended the season with a team defensive rating of 115.6, which ranks them bottom 10 in the league.

In his rookie campaign, Wembanyama averaged 21.4 points (46.5% FG), 10.6 rebounds (8.4 defensive), 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 3.6 blocks. 

To also mention, Gobert, the 7-foot-1 anchor of Minnesota’s stout defense, is more than likely going to be selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, which will be the seventh time throughout his career. In his 11th season, he scored 14.0 points (66.1% FG), grabbed 12.9 rebounds (9.2 defensive), to go along with 0.7 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. 

Gobert took home the DPOY trophy one day after missing a playoff game for the birth of his son, who he announced.

“Romeo is the name and he’s doing great,” Gobert told reporters. “A lot of blessings. Just really grateful.”

To point out, Heat’s Bam Adebayo finished third in DPOY voting, while Lakers’ Anthony Davis did not make the list of nominees, and has now has gone his whole 12-year career without ever winning the DPOY award.

Notably, Davis averaged 2.3 blocks, 1.2 steals, and 9.5 defensive rebounds (tied career-high) per game this season. After the candidates were announced, Davis was outspoken about not being included, as reported by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“I’ll never get [the award]. They’re not giving it to me,” AD stated. “The league doesn’t like me. I’m the best defensive player in the league. I can switch 1 through 5. I can guard the pick-and-roll the best in the league, from a big standpoint. I block shots. I rebound. I don’t know what else to do. I’m over it… Accolades and individual awards, I’m done with those.”

Looking for the latest NBA Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow Hoops Wire on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NBA News and Rumors for all 30 teams!

Leave a Reply