Utah Jazz: Jazz rookie Rudy Gobert has big dreams, but not big minutes just yet
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Big man. Big potential. Big dreams. Big minutes?
When it comes to Rudy Gobert, the first three are no-brainers.
And the getting-big-minutes part? Well, that’s more in the TBD category.
As Gobert tweeted following Monday’s game, the latest in which he only got garbage-time play, waiting for that big opportunity to arise requires: “Patience, patience, patience.”
The 21-year-old Utah Jazz rookie wrote that message on Twitter as much for his followers as for himself. Gobert hasn’t been given much consistent playing time, especially not the past few months, but there is hope for a brighter future, a future that includes him swatting shots and terrorizing opponents around the rim on defense and him using his athletic 7-foot-1 frame to create offensive opportunities in the paint.
“That’s about basketball, for sure,” Gobert said about the tweet, which was somewhat reminiscent of a message he wrote earlier this season about how he knew he could help the team if only given the chance.
“That wasn’t complaining about playing time,” he explained about Monday's tweet. “But I want to play, of course.”
Desire and reality haven’t aligned yet for the French player, whom the Jazz acquired in a draft day trade after Denver selected him 27th overall.
Because Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Marvin Williams and Jeremy Evans have received the bulk of the big men minutes this season, Gobert continues working in the weight room and on the practice court, bides his time observing, learning and cheering from the sidelines, and waits for his time to come.
“That’s not the easy part,” he admitted.
It doesn’t just take patience, either.
Getting his body and game to the point where he’ll be able to earn the trust of his coach also takes a lot of perspiration and persistence.
“I like him. I like what he’s done. I like his growth this year,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He has a lot more growth to do, and he’s progressing.”
The morning after Gobert saw only two meaningless minutes of action at the end of the Jazz’s 114-94 drubbing by Detroit, Corbin took exception to being asked what is keeping him from playing more.
“Where we are right now,” Corbin replied. “Who are you going to play him in front of?”
The third-year Jazz coach was not asking to acquire insight from a reporter.
“You can’t look at just throwing a guy out there just because he’s young,” Corbin said. “You’ve got to make sure you put him in a position to have some chance of your team being successful and the guy being successful.”
Such as life is, Gobert’s playing time has been as sporadic as his performances. Maybe he'll play Wednesday night against Memphis. Maybe he won't. Maybe he'll be effective on offense. Maybe he won't.
As for playing time, Gobert has only made appearances in 38 games for an average of 10.3 minutes per outing. He hasn’t seen more than five minutes in a game since a 10-minute showing in the 114-88 loss at Milwaukee on March 3.
Even with the limited P.T., Gobert and his coach say improvement has taken place since he made the humongous leap from the French professional ranks to the best basketball league in the world.
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