SB Nation is posting scouting reports of each prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. Learn more about French big man Rudy Gobert.
NAME: Rudy Gobert
PROFESSIONAL TEAM: Cholet Basket (France)
AGE ON DRAFT NIGHT: Gobert turns 21 in June
MEASUREMENTS: 7'2, 238 pounds, 7'8.5 wingspan, 9'7 standing reach
RELEVANT STAT: 72-percent true shooting this season. It's hard not to be efficient when all you do is dunk.
SB NATION BIG BOARD POSITION: No. 25.
NBA CEILING: Shawn Bradley
NBA FLOOR: Alexis Ajinca
JONATHAN TJARKS' ANALYSIS
Rudy Gobert, a 21-year-old center from France, will be one of the longest players in NBA history. His arms look like a practical joke made with the copy function on Photoshop.
This season, he averaged eight points, five rebounds and two blocks on 72-percent shooting in the French League. He may not come over to the NBA right away, but he will have to cover at some point, just so we can see what happens.
At 7'2 and 240 pounds with a 7'9 wingspan, Gobert can essentially dunk the ball standing straight up. That's how he gets most of his points: his teammates throwing lobs anywhere in the vicinity of rim. On defense, his mere presence at the front of rim is valuable. He's not all that athletic, but his heart is in the right place. It's very hard to shoot over the top of earnestly-waived 7'9 arms.
Unfortunately, he also has the physical strength you would expect for someone with his proportions. A not insignificant portion of Gobert's time in the game is spent either being knocked to the ground or getting back up. The lack of strength is the biggest red flag about his ability to transition to the next level. It will be very hard for him to win wrestling matches on the low block and hold position on the defensive glass, two things NBA centers need to do.
Even if he doesn't put on more weight, though, the bizarre ways that his length affects the game could make him a valuable backup center. All I ask is that the basketball gods give us a Gobert/JaVale McGee matchup at some point.
DRAFT EXPRESS SCOUTING REPORT
OTHER SB NATION SCOUTING REPORTS
You have never seen anything in your life like Rudy Gobert shooting jump shots. His torso is impossibly long, and when he bends his knees and elbows simultaneously to take a mid-range shot, he most closely resembles a 7-foot praying mantis flinging a ball toward the hoop. His stroke isn't exactly ugly, but it isn't exactly pretty; his shots go in more often than you might expect but still not terribly regularly.
More than anything, watching Gobert shoot while a crowd of famous faces look on gets you to wonder what they're thinking. An old cliché says you can't teach height, and it just might be the most accurate cliché of all. Running on a treadmill won't make you any taller, and this is Gobert's inherent advantage over his competition.
He seems fairly skilled? He seems to be moving pretty well? It's hard to say, really, as with everything at the draft combine when the athletes are facing little resistance to what they're trying to do.
Offensively, he couldn't be more raw. He has trouble shooting it from beyond eight feet. He looks uncomfortable in the post. He would dive to rim and try to create contact on almost every possession he took in the post position. The good thing is he creates contact. He would get to the line. There he would struggle again because the free throw line is beyond eight ft from the rim. He needs work.
There will be a team that goes gaga over him. After all, look at him. He's giant. He's young. He could STILL be growing for all we know. Someone will take the chance on him. The allure of having a 7'2 big man with measureables that in the history of the combine have never been measured will tantalize some GM to select him all because of Rudy Gobert's best NBA talent: Potential.
Gobert is another international player, meaning that any looks we get at him are likely to be our first. He appeared very slender and lanky, which could be a problem if he's used as a center in the league. His length and wingspan could compensate for his build, but he might be better served as a stretch-four going forward. The good news is that he showed a better shooting touch than expected and did well in the mid-range shooting drill. On Friday, he tested at 7'8.5 in wingspan, topping JaVale McGee for the record for the largest mark.
In the wind sprints, however, which all the players went through with their position after the skill drills, Gobert came last in every heat. That could point to him being out of shape or just his lack of speed running the floor, neither of which are a good sign. Not to say wind sprints are a big determinant of a player's future in the NBA, but with the little we and the people actually making the decisions in the draft get to see, everything counts.
To his credit, Gobert has good hands and can finish at the rim fairly well. He could be a decent pick-and-roll option because of his hands and his size. The margin for error becomes a little bit bigger with his size as a target on the move toward the hoop. Gobert also has the tools that can translate to good offensive rebounding in the NBA. The good things pretty much stop there. He has difficulty when double-teamed and his ball-handling (or lack thereof) leads to turnovers. He lacks a jump shot in his arsenal, but his 70.4-percent free throw shooting makes me wonder if he could develop even a half-consistent jumper. Further, a back to the basket game eludes him and at times his decision making is suspect. Gobert's weight once again causes an issue here as it makes it difficult to maintain position and finish through contact.
Gobert is not the athlete one expects a player with his size to be, for he is not particularly quick and he gets pushed around in the post by stronger defenders. At 238 pounds, Gobert has stick-like legs that need to fill out and is a poor defensive rebounder.
For all his weaknesses, Gobert has so much upside to look past. Any team would love to have a prospect like him on the floor, even though he may not be as athletic as he looks.
He is a fine finisher around the basket, but not used often. He is used mostly off of pick-and-rolls and many of his baskets come off of the offensive glass. He did hit 74 percent of his two-point opportunities, which is just incredible. Outside the paint he struggles, though. Gobert isn't very talented with the ball in his hands if he isn't going straight up with it.
Gobert's strength is on the defensive end. Despite being a heavy runner, Gobert is great at hedging on pick-and-roles and has great instinct to block shots, turning away more than three per 40 minutes. Not only is he a great shot blocker, but also his opposition is forced to stay out of his paint when he is in the game, simply due to his presence.
As you can see from the stats above, Gobert is ridiculously efficient from the field. There's a reason for that, as almost all of his offense comes from dunks and/or put-backs. He doesn't have a low-post game to speak of and isn't strong enough to be a bully in the paint. One bright spot is that he does shoot his free throws at a decent clip for a big man, which could bode well for perhaps adding a short jumper in the future.
Defense is where Gobert's potential really lies. When you have that long of a reach, you can affect the game even if you don't block a bunch of shots. By all accounts he has good instincts on that end, although he doesn't face nearly the same competition in France as he would in the NBA, where the players are much bigger, stronger and talented.
Gobert isn't much of a rebounder despite his length. That's likely from his lack of strength, as he can get pushed around easily. That will only get worse in the NBA. It also doesn't help that aside from his height and wingspan, Gobert measured poorly in other athletic tests.