Rudy Gobert opens a new chapter in his career, with a wolf hunger


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Los Angeles (AFP) – After nine seasons in Utah, where he established himself as one of the best defenders in the NBA, failing to win a championship ring, Rudy Gobert is trying a new adventure in Minnesota, within the young, talented Timberwolves and the long teeth.

After an elimination in the 1st round by the Mavericks of Luka Doncic in the spring, synonymous with new disillusionment in the play-offs, the end of an era sounded for the Jazz. And the French pivot did not hide his emotion at the time of the farewell: « I am grateful for these years spent in Utah. Arrived young man, I became a man there. And I will always be a Jazz ».

Here he is now a Wolves player, « excited » to « find himself in a new environment, a new city », he said in July after the formalization of his trade for five players and four picks of the first draft rounds to come ( 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029).

Yes, the Minneapolis franchise, which will also have to pay his salary ($ 170 million over the next four seasons), paid dearly to afford the 30-year-old interior, whom it sees as the player capable of him. take a course.

Last season the Timberwolves, whose best run ended in the Western Conference finals in 2004, returned to the play-offs after four years of absence.

Duo at high altitude

If the pivot Karl-Anthony Towns and the rear Anthony Edwards were the offensive engines of the team, the defensive deficiencies were crippling. But it is to strengthen this sector that Gobert was recruited.

Minnesota Timberwolves French pivot Rudy Gobert on October 6 in Las Vegas during an NBA preseason game against the Lakers.
Minnesota Timberwolves French pivot Rudy Gobert on October 6 in Las Vegas during an NBA preseason game against the Lakers. Ethan Miller GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

The triple best defender in the league (2018, 2020, 2021) will form with Towns, who hastened to welcome the arrival of « the one who will make us a champion team », a formidable interior duo on paper , because of their high altitude (2.16 m for the French, 2.11 m for the American). For their complementarity, it will be necessary to see.

Offensively, the native of Saint-Quentin will not have more responsibilities than in Utah, where Mitchell and the overdose of shots behind the arc predominated, because « KAT » (24.6 points on average the last season) and Anthony Edwards (21.3 pts) will remain the priority options in attack.

If the Gobert-Towns association is not obvious, those concerned want to fight it out together. The second, accustomed to playing offshore where he relies on a solid three-point address (41% last year), willingly wants to leave room in the racket for the first.

« His strengths are my weaknesses and his weaknesses are my strengths, » Towns recently summed up.

« Make Guys Better »

« I’ve always liked playing with another dominant interior », for his part underlined « Gobzilla » at the beginning of October, without hiding his ambition to finally reach the heights: « I don’t think there is a ceiling. When we look at the workforce and the talent we have, it’s quite incredible ».

This duo, which is a big bet on the part of the Timberwolves, will not have had a lot of time to develop automatisms before the start of their season, Wednesday against Oklahoma City.

Gobert arrived late in Minnesota, after losing in the Eurobasket final with the French team against Spain. He was spared, like Towns, who contracted a lung disease that delayed his preparation.

In the end, they will only have played their first minutes together on Friday, during the defeat (112-102) in a friendly against the Brooklyn Nets, compiling 31 points and 17 rebounds between them. Encouraging.

« They had a few sessions together but, unfortunately, not as many as we would have liked », regretted the day before their coach Chris Finch, while observing that « the chemistry between the two seems quite good ».

French center Rudy Gobert (right) and Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch during an NBA preseason game October 6 in Las Vegas.
French center Rudy Gobert (right) and Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch during an NBA preseason game October 6 in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

« They have to be on the same wavelength and we create a dynamic around them, » he added.

What the explosive Anthony Edwards intends to take advantage of, for whom Gobert « opens highways to the basket ».

The Frenchman, who also has the experience on his side, also knows very well what he can bring: « I know that I can make the guys around me better ».

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