20 points and 17 rebounds! A construction site against Turkey marked by a decisive tap. A double-double average since the start of the tournament (14 pts, 10.3 rebounds). And a leading role in this France team to compensate for the absence of major executives. Despite this remarkable performance and high-sounding statistics after more discreet first outings (note: 11 pts against Germany, 8 pts against Lithuania), Rudy Gobert is still not unanimous. “There is a lot of pressure on him. His game makes us all proudlaunched Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot after the round of 16 in remarks taken up by AFP. Everyone shut up, those who talk, say he doesn’t deserves”.
On social networks or on sets in the United States in particular, the star of the Blues still sees criticism flourish. In the eyes of some, his start to competition was too timid. And his offensive game remains too limited. “Yes, Rudy needs to improve in some aspects. But fortunately he has some progress to make, answers Jacques Monclar, consultant of BeIn Sport in particular on the NBA. JI also find him more ‘friendly’ with the ball in the NBA than what I see this summer. Because there is less space here. It’s hard to explain but you have to take into account the opponent’s defensive tricks, the dimensions of the field, the rhythm, the habits of the game… (..) In FIBA basketball, we sometimes have the impression that the field is too small for the ‘Big Men‘”.
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Rudy Gobert and the Blues came very close to elimination against Turkey
It must be considered on both sides individually
If the characteristics of the FIBA game do not necessarily help Rudy Gobert to express himself at best – even if Vincent Collet tries to set up systems to allow him to shine on the other side of the floor as well -, everyone everyone is unaware of this. And some expect more. Rudy Gobert is not, however, the UFO Nikola Jokic, a 2m11 giant with golden hands and a leader’s vision of the game. Nor does he have the unique combination of power, fluidity and dexterity of the phenomenon Giannis Antetokounmpo, who however took a few years to have the same impact on both sides of the Atlantic. And neither is he as technically as fine as Jonas Valančiūnas for example. But don’t forget the rest. Everything that the presence of Rudy Gobert changes for the France team.
If the Olympic vice-champions have the third defense of the teams still qualified while being the formation that loses the most balls (15.8 per game), it is indeed not for nothing. With his extraordinary science of protecting the circle, the native of Saint-Quentin forces opposing teams to adapt. It’s true in the NBA. And this is obviously the case with the Blues. “It must be considered on both sides (note: of the field) individuallyexplains Jacques Monclar. There is no debate but there is oblivion. Defense is part of the game. Often in basketball, the game is only considered through the prism of attack. We must remember the usefulness of a player of 2m16 with 2m35 wingspan defensively. In deterrence, rebounding, counters…”.
Credit: Getty Images
I can do much better
So why do some continue to be so “demanding” with him and are not satisfied with his already so precious contribution? “There is perhaps his communication and the understanding of the French whose references are more those of the highlights, of Michael (note: Jordan) and Kobe (Bryant). Dominant players of this type, “slips Jacques again Monclar who followed the preparation of the Blues for this Euro for BeIn Sport. Gold with his CV, with his three defender of the year trophies in the NBA (2018, 2019 and 2021), and his three selections at the great mass of NBA stars – the All Star Game –, the native of Saint-Quentin has changed in size. This may explain the enormous expectations of the general public on his person. Just as his monstrous contract (205 million dollars over 5 years) has put him even more in the spotlight and generated even harsher criticism like the releases of, for example, Shaquille O’Neal or more recently Tracy McGrady.
While he always announces his ambitions loud and clear (“I don’t have a gold medal yet. It’s our goal” he launches on the FIBA website), Rudy Gobert however ignores. Focus on his game and his team, the new pivot of the Minnesota Timberwolves focuses on his objectives and his strengths to chart his course. “My goal is only to win. The critics are there and will always be”, sweeps away the former Choletais. But he remains a perfectionist. And does not want to be completely satisfied with what he is currently doing, as he admitted after his exit against Turkey: “I can do much better. I’m not really happy with my game, I have 20 points but I think I could have scored 30, I left too many free throws (6/11 successful, editor’s note)”.
As the tournament goes on, Rudy is becoming dominant
Ignoring gossip, Gobert always moves forward. And intends to confirm his rise to power against Italy, which he had dominated at the Olympic Games last summer at the same stage of the competition (22 pts, 9 rebounds) while playing his role as a manager in this team of France: “Qwhen you beat a team three times in a year. The more you advance, the more you can tell yourself, unconsciously, that these matches will be the same, thus warns “Gobzilla”. But no: we learned it the hard way against Argentina at the World Cup (2019)”.
If Italy can pose some problems for the Blues who will have to defend wider so as not to let the Azzurri catch fire from afar as against Serbia, Vincent Collet knows in any case that he can count on the slaughter of his pivot , well supported in circles by Moustapha Fall and Vincent Poirier. A Gobert more and more his advantage. “As the tournament goes on, Rudy is becoming dominant. And it’s part of a Big Man’s expression“, considers Jacques Monclar before concluding: “We can say all we want about our team and Rudy. But losing 16 balls per game, I see that we are still there. And if we manage to solve this…”
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