Rudy Gobert Wins 4th NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert won his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award on Tuesday, joining Hall of Famers Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace for the most in league history.

Gobert, 31, received a staggering 72 first-place votes, 24 second-place votes, and a single vote for third. The 11-year veteran also won the honor in 2018, 2019, and 2021 with the Utah Jazz.

The 7-foot-1 big man led the Wolves’ top-ranked defense this season. Minnesota allowed 108.4 points per 100 possessions, 2.2 fewer than the second-ranked Boston Celtics.

According to NBA betting sites, the Timberwolves now hold second-best championship odds below the Celtics. Sportsbooks are still showing great odds for the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks.

“It’s great teamwork,” Gobert told TNT’s NBA Tip-Off on Tuesday. “We love to get individual awards and all these things, and it’s great, but you can’t do it alone. I really have a lot of gratitude for … all my teammates for believing in me, allowing me to do what I do best every day and just try to change the culture here in Minnesota. It’s great for the guys for buying in.”

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, who was named the league’s Rookie of the Year on Monday, finished second in the voting. A rookie has still never won the Defensive Player of the Year award. Wemby garnered 19 first-place votes, 44 second-place votes, and 18 for third.

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo was third, his best finish in the voting. He received three first-place votes, 15 for second place, and 31 for third.

Gobert missed Game 2 of the Western Conference second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Monday following the birth of his son. The Timberwolves hold a 2-0 series lead on Denver.

Rudy Gobert wins fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award after leading league in defensive win shares, rating

During the regular season, the three-time All-Star led the league in defensive win shares (5.8) and defensive rating (104.5). He also finished second in total rebounds (982), fifth in blocks (162), sixth in blocks per game (2.1), and eighth in block percentage (5.5).

According to Stathead, the Timberwolves held opponents to 56.6% shooting on dunk and layup attempts, the lowest rate in the NBA. It was the first season that Karl-Anthony Towns and Gobert played at least 60 games on the court together as teammates.

Gobert limited opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 45.2%, the lowest among 38 players to contest at least 1,000 shots, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

His opponents attempted only 21.6% of their shots from inside the restricted area when Gobert was on the court, according to Second Spectrum. That would have ranked the lowest among any team this season. The percentage increased to 26.7% when he was off the floor.

“This year, training camp, we came Day 1 and said we wanted to be a top defense in this league,” Gobert said. “Every guy has bought in. Everyone has put in the work every single day, and now we’re here with one goal in mind, to try to get this championship.

“… Great things take time. You guys all know winning is not something that happens overnight. You need to overcome adversity, you need to go through some ups and downs as a group.”

Gobert also managed to elevate his game for plays outside the key. He thrived in switch situations, allowing the fewest points per direct isolations among players to defend at least 175 isolation possessions, per Second Spectrum.

According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, he allowed the third-fewest points per direct pick among screener defenders to defend at least 1000 on-ball picks.

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