SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 20: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 20, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Gobert Setting A New Standard On Offense

Following an impressive 16-point, 21-rebound double-double on Wednesday night, Rudy Gobert is showing the evolution in his offensive game

Rudy Gobert came out with a vengeance in Utah's season opener on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City, amassing a double-double midway through the second quarter.

He finished the game with 16 points and 21 rebounds. His work on the glass broke Utah's franchise record for most rebounds in a season opener, surpassing Carlos Boozer's 19-rebound performance on Nov. 1, 2006.

For Gobert and the Jazz, what happened on the court against the Thunder wasn’t just a long time coming, it was a message sent to the rest of the league.

When Utah's season came to an end last year in the second round of the playoffs, the defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers raised a lot of eyebrows in the NBA world.

As usual, whenever a team comes up short of expectations, there has to be a fall guy. For the Jazz last season, Gobert was that guy.

"Obviously it's painful," Gobert said following the season-ending loss to the Clippers. "We had a great year, but we felt like we had all the weapons we needed to try to take a shot at the title. It's painful. ... But everything is a learning experience. Hopefully we learn from it."

Despite being defended vehemently by his teammates, most notably Donovan Mitchell and head coach Quin Snyder, some still saw Gobert as the primary reason for Utah's fall.

Gobert took those whisperings in stride as if it were a part of the game when asked about those comments during training camp.

He insisted that he knew the truth, so the comments of others didn't bother him. He also publicly shouldered some of the blame–mainly because it meant that he could be in charge of fixing it.

"Basketball is just a game," Gobert said during the preseason. "As long as we use all of these experiences to be ready for the next moment–it's not a PTSD thing where we almost crash on the plane or stuff like that–it's basketball. You learn, and you just try to come back better next year."

Safe to say he's doing just that.

The scariest thing of all, Gobert is just beginning to tap into his potential on offense and Wednesday night's performance was his way of putting the rest of the league on notice.

"I'm feeling more and more comfortable," Gobert said postgame. "I've been putting in a lot of work, and it's exciting to know that I haven't even scratched the surface of what I can do offensively."

His improvement down on the block, playing through contact, finishing strong, and finding the open man were all evident, particularly to fellow all-star Donovan Mitchell.

"When you're so good at something, they want to just focus solely on that. He's so good at being a defensive force that people sometimes don't look at the other side," Mitchell said of Gobert. "He knows what he needs to work on and get better. … He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be able to do certain things. The biggest things we're seeing is the catching and finishing, the playing through contact. … That's where I'm saying like, 'okay, he's taken that next step.'"

While his defense and rebounding abilities don't come as a shock anymore, what's been most impressive to Mitchell is that this sort of change in Gobert's offensive skillset hasn't come easily. It's been years in the making and only recently begun to take shape following the loss to the Clippers in June.

For Gobert though, he understands that this sort of production can't just happen once in a blue moon. Consistency is the key, and that's been the most significant difference since he arrived back in Salt Lake City after the offseason.

"He did it in the preseason, he did it in training camp, and now I think that's the level we're going to see out of him," Mitchell said.

Good luck to the rest of the league if this is the new standard for Gobert.

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