NBA: Rudy Gobert is the NBA’s best defender for the third time in four years

Salt Lake City, Utah – The towering Utah Jazz center is yet again the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in his career.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert is the 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, his third award in four years.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert is the 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, his third award in four years.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Rudy Gobert (28) has once again claimed the title of the NBA’s best defender after Giannis Antetokounmpo previously kept him from winning three straight titles just last year.

The All-Star center earned a whopping 84 out of 100 first-place votes to run away with the honor, with the Sixers’ Ben Simmons coming in second with 15 top votes.

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Gobert has been a pillar of the Jazz’s defense since coming onboard in Utah back in 2013. While progressing year by year, he eventually developed into one of the league’s dominant figures on route to winning his first DPOY award in 2018. He kept up the high level of play to win again the very next year in 2019, before coming up short to Antetokounmpo in 2020.

Gobert finished the 2020-21 regular season with career highs in blocks with 2.7 per game and rebounds with 13.5. With his defensive play, the Jazz finished the season with the league’s third-best overall total defense.

He’s also been one of the main reasons the Jazz finished this season with the league’s best record and the overall number one seed, heading into the current postseason.

Rudy joins a rare group of dominant defenders

Gobert is now the fourth player in NBA history to earn this award three times in a career. He joins former star centers Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace, and Dwight Howard in the record books. Mutombo, though, is the only one has won the top honor four times.

"It's unbelievable… if somebody would have told me that I was going to be defensive player of the year, I would have never believed them, let alone three times," Gobert said to ESPN, after accepting his third award.

Gobert and the Jazz are still rolling through the playoffs, taking on the Clippers in game two of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday.

Cover photo: IMAGO / UPI Photo

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