Rudy Gobert wins record-tying 4th Defensive Player of the Year award

Rudy Gobert made some history. Victor Wembanyama nearly did.

Gobert, the Minnesota center, was announced Tuesday as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for a record-tying fourth time – joining Basketball Hall of Fame inductees Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace.

It was the fifth time in the last 11 seasons that a French center won defensive player of the year – and it sure seems like Wembanyama will add to that country’s total before long. The San Antonio rookie center, announced Monday as the league’s Rookie of the Year, was second in the voting and fell one spot short of being the first player to win the DPOY trophy in Year 1 of his NBA career.

Viva la France, indeed. Joakim Noah became the first Frenchman to win DPOY when he was the overwhelming choice in 2014, and Gobert now has the trophies for 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2024.

“It’s great teamwork,” Gobert, the best defender on a Timberwolves team that had the best defense in the NBA this season, said on TNT during the award’s announcement. “We love to get individual awards and all these things, and it’s great but you can’t do it alone.”

It’s the ninth time in Gobert’s 11 seasons that he has been seventh or better in the DPOY voting. He was second in 2017, third in 2020 and 2022, fifth in 2015 and seventh in 2016 – and picked up this trophy one day after missing a playoff game for the birth of his son, Romeo.

“A lot of blessings,” Gobert said. “Just really grateful.”

Miami center Bam Adebayo was third, his best-ever finish in the voting. He was fourth in 2021 and 2022, along with fifth in 2020 and 2023.

Adebayo – an Olympic gold medalist from 2021 and part of the team that USA Basketball has picked to play in the Paris Games this summer – is the only player to have been in the top five of the DPOY balloting in each of the last five years. He’s gotten at least one first-place vote in all five of those seasons, the only player in the NBA who can say that.

Gobert was second in rebounds per game and sixth in blocked shots per game – a category where Wembanyama led the league. The Timberwolves led the NBA this season in fewest points allowed per game. They also held opponents to the lowest field-goal percentage.

“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.”

Gobert’s win adds to an awards haul this year for the Timberwolves, who are having their best season in 20 years. Minnesota hadn’t won a playoff series since 2004 before knocking off Phoenix in Round 1, and now has a 2-0 lead – both wins on the road – over defending NBA champion Denver in the Western Conference semifinals.

“Great things take time,” Gobert said. “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.”

Other major Timberwolves award finishes this spring saw Naz Reid winning Sixth Man of the Year,Mike Conley winning the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award, Chris Finch finishing third in the Coach of the Year voting (won by Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault ), Tim Connelly placing third in the Executive of the Year race (won by Boston’s Brad Stevens ) and Anthony Edwards finishing eighth in the Clutch Player of the Year balloting (won by Golden State’s Stephen Curry ).

The winner of the NBA’s top individual award will be announced Wednesday.

Three international players – Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dallas’ Luka Doncic – are the finalists for MVP. Jokic is seeking what would be his third MVP award in the last four seasons, while Gilgeous-Alexander and Doncic are aiming to win the trophy for the first time.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, last season’s MVP, was not eligible this year because of the league’s new policy requiring players to appear in a certain number of games before being considered for most awards.

Other NBA honors yet to be announced are the All-Defensive, All-Rookie and All-NBA teams – which won’t be revealed before next week – and the Social Justice Award winner, which will be announced Thursday.


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5/7/2024 6:11:45 PM (GMT -5:00)