Utah Jazz star big man Rudy Gobert could be set to return from an injury sooner rather than later based on recent practice participation.
Those at practice said he was moving a lot and finishing near the rim. Head coach Quin Snyder and three of his assistant coaches, as well as the team training staff, were all watching him work out.
Gobert, 25, was expected to miss between four-to-six weeks with a right tibia contusion when originally diagnosed earlier this month. The 7-foot-1 star called himself a “fast healer” but wouldn’t rush himself back into action.
The extra 3.2 points make a difference, as Gobert is an incredibly valuable defender. Among those who have logged at least as many minutes as Gobert, he has the best block percentage in the NBA.
Kyle Goon wrote about his significance to the franchise (via The Salt Lake Tribune):
“When a driver slips past his man, he still has to find a way to finish against a center with 9-foot-9 standing reach and a knack for smacking shots into the bleachers. That intimidating presence is both tangible (with the blocks Gobert racks up) and intangible (with players passing up shot attempts in the paint). The Jazz perimeter players are more exposed without him.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Gobert was one of the more efficient shooters among all big men when healthy. He averaged 1.31 points per shot attempt with a dominant 63.3 effective field goal percentage, via Cleaning the Glass. He ranks Top 15 in field goal percentage within five feet of the basket among those who have taken as many shots near the rim so far this season.
If he can return earlier than expected, that’s good news for the Jazz, who face their toughest month of the season in December.