The NBA announced that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been named a finalist for both the Kia Defensive Player of the Year and NBA Most Improved Player awards. The winners will be announced at the inaugural 2017 NBA Awards on TNT on June 26 on TNT (7 p.m. MT).
Appearing in 81 games (all starts), Gobert averaged career highs of 14.0 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game while posting career-bests in field goal percentage (.662) and free throw percentage (.653) while helping the Jazz to their first 50-win season since 2009-10. Gobert on Thursday was named to the 2016-17 All-NBA Second Team.
He led the NBA in total blocks (214), blocks per game (2.6), block percentage (6.4), defensive win shares (6.0), defensive real plus/minus (6.03), true shooting percentage (.683) and points per shot (1.82). He finished third in offensive rating (129.0) and defensive rating (99.2), the only player in the NBA to finish in the top-five in both categories. His .662 mark from the field is the best for a single-season in franchise history and ranked second in the NBA this year.
The fourth-year center became the first player in franchise history and the first NBA player since 2009-10 to compile 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocks in a single season. In addition, he now ranks seventh on the Jazz all-time blocks list (579). Gobert recorded a league-best 42 consecutive games with at least one block and led the league with four games of at least six blocks, eight games with five blocks, 18 games with four blocks, 42 games with three blocks, 63 games with two blocks and 77 games with one block. He anchored a Jazz defense that led the league in opponent points per game (96.8), finished second in opponent field goal percentage (.443) and third in defensive rating (102.7).
Two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner Mark Eaton (1984-85, 1988-89) is the only Jazzman to win that honor, while Gobert would become the first player in franchise history selected as Most Improved Player (Gobert finished third in the award voting in 2014-15).
Golden State’s Draymond Green and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard were also named as finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, while Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver’s Nikola Jokic are the other contenders for Most Improved Player.
The NBA Awards event will also include the NBA Most Valuable Player, Sixth Man, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year awards, as well as naming of the NBA All-Rookie Team, All-Defensive Team, Basketball Executive of the Year, Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, Sportsmanship Award and the Season-Long NBA Cares Community Assist Award.