Utah Jazz: Jazz rookie Rudy Gobert has big dreams, but not big minutes just yet

Published: Tuesday, March 25 2014 11:55 p.m. MDT

“I think I learned how it works in the league. When you are outside you don’t understand everything, but when you are inside you can know how it works,” Gobert said. “I think I learned basketball. I learned a lot.”

Gobert’s strength, of course, is his ability to alter and/or block shots. He is the Stifle Tower, after all. While the Jazz have tried to get him to play even bigger, to fully utilize his 7-foot-9 wing span, his defensive presence has been felt when he’s in games.

The biggest problem comes on the offensive side. Corbin said the young player is learning the importance of timing and how essential it is for him to get proper position on pick-and-rolls, in the post, and during other plays the Jazz run.

“He has to make sure he’s in the right spot, and faster,” Corbin explained. “If you’re off a little bit, you throw your whole rhythm of the offense off.”

Gobert also needs to improve his handwork — from catching the ball when it comes his way to holding on to it when powerful opponents try to knock it out of his hands while pushing him out of his spot.

“They’re stronger. They’re more mature. They understand how and when to hit you to make you lose the ball and throw you off-balance,” Corbin said of NBA big men Gobert has to face. “He has a lot to learn.”

It’s somewhat frustrating for Gobert because he said he “was catching the ball every time” last year when he played in France.

The center also said he feels “more comfortable” with how he fares in practice against the stronger Kanter and Favors than when he gets into real-game scenarios. That’s especially the case on offense.

“I think in the game it’s more of a confidence,” Gobert said. “I don’t want to do something because if I do it bad Coach is going to take me out, if I do mistakes. When you play like this, it’s not easy. I think it’s just confidence, offensively. Defensively, it’s easier because it’s more intensity. You don’t have to think, you just have to play hard on defense.”

C'est la vie, right?

"I think in some ways he’s ahead of where we thought he would be. He was so raw, especially offensively," Corbin said. "He does some things defensively that can help you, but the other side of the game, you've got to play both sides."

Gobert has worked on adding bulk to his lanky frame, and has even been able to increase his weight from 238 pounds to about 245 and build lower-body muscle with the help of strength and conditioning coaches Mark McKown and Isaiah Wright. That’s taken a lot of time in the weight room before practices and even in hotels on the road.

Gobert looks forward to returning home to work out before returning to Utah a couple of weeks ahead of the Las Vegas Summer League, where he hopes “to show … what I can really do.” After that, the Parisian plans on trying to help France win the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

The big man with big potential has big dreams after that.

“In five years,” Gobert said, “I want to be an All-Star. That’s my goal. And win a title.”

Of course, those accomplishments will take something he’s become very familiar with his rookie season: Patience, patience, patience.

NOTE: Utah Jazz games on DirecTV will be broadcast on Ch. 683-1 for the rest of the season instead of on Ch. 684-1. Wednesday's game against Memphis will be an 8:30 p.m. tipoff and will be televised on ESPN.

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com


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