There is some international talent to look out for in this year’s draft. Brandon has already covered Croatian superstar, Dario Saric, who is considered to be the international crop of NBA Draft prospects, according to the great Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, and German point guard, Dennis Schroeder. In last year’s draft, Frenchman, Evan Fournier, was drafted by the Nuggets with their 20th pick, the first international prospect to be picked off the board. Fellow high-rising 7-2 Frenchman, Rudy Gobert, is considered to be the second best international prospect below Dario Saric. It’s actually a back and forth battle between draft analysts and writers with Saric and Gobert. They really get into a war over the two, which is pretty hilarious to say the least. But I’m only touching on Gobert in this post.
Gobert’s career in the French Pro A League was mostly a successful one, due to his gargantuan 7-2 height and length. He has a whopping 7’9 wingspan, bigger than both Javale McGee and DeAndre Jordan’s wingspans at 7’6 at their pre-draft measurements. It’s absolutely nuts looking at Gobert’s arms. Just thinking about them gives me nightmares, but good nightmares (that sounds weird). Like McGee, Gobert’s wingspan is on a lanky frame of 238 pounds. He can extinguish pick and roll lanes with ease, resulting in an abundant of steals when he sticks his hand into passing lanes. Opposing offenses would have horrific hallucinations of his wicked length. If a team is implementing traps and or double teams and Gobert is one of the trappers, then forget it; throw up the white flag and surrender, because you’re not going to find a cutter or someone open in general like Lebron James does when he’s doubled. I WANT YOUR EXTREMELY LONG ARMS, RUDY. ALL I’M ASKING FOR IS JUST ONE, ONE I TELL YA! ONE!!!!!! I WOULD LIKE BOTH, BUT THAT’S ASKING FOR A LITTLE TOO MUCH.
In some scenarios, big men have clumsy hands, but Gobert? He has hands like Elmer’s glue. Imagine throwing lobs to him in game. Every point guard, no matter how good the point guard is, would acquire the NBA 2K13 alley oop signature skill. Gobert wouldn’t even have to jump to receive the lob with that ridiculous standing reach of his; he could just stand on his tippy-toes and dunk it while in transition, probably. He’s also a fantastic finisher off of pick and rolls, cuts, and offensive rebound put-backs with those soft hands of his. You can’t bring up a center without talking about an awesome sweeping hook, so guess what that means? Gobert has a nice hook that is virtually unstoppable,
Not surprisingly, Gobert is a rim protector to the max. In 27 games played, he lead the Pro A league in BPG with 1.9, his biggest strength by far. The defensive end is where Gobert will definitely thrive. It’s not a revelation that a big man like him has great instincts and timing when blocking opposing shooters. It is almost impossible to chuck up a shot over him, while going up against him man-to-man with that length of his. The offensive equivalent of that would be Dirk Nowitzki doing his patented, insurmountable-to-defend fadeaway.
Unfortunately, like the lion’s share of tall, skinny big men, there are certain limitations, particularly outside of the paint. I bet every draft writer you talk to will say that 85% of the big men in this draft, with the exception of Gorgui Dieng and somewhat Jeff Withey, have no game outside of the paint. And Gobert is part of that 85%. He has little-to-no jump shot that he can apply, along with not being a smart decision maker when he gets touches. He isn’t a dependable post player either, especially with lack of lower body strength, and going face-to-face with the basket too much. His offensive majority comes from inside the realms of the paint, which isn’t shocking. If, somehow, Gobert can hit the weight room and develop the abounding lower body strength he needs, then he can be capable of becoming a post option in the future, not so much now, but it can happen later, so he doesn’t keep facing the basket all the time. Gobert’s post defense kind of corresponds with his post game, in that because of his lower body strength inadequacy, he’ll get pushed back a lot while defending someone in the post. Let’s say if Al Jefferson, a post player by heart, posts him up; he’ll get killed right away. Tall guys like Gobert, and I mentioned this in my Jeff Withey profile, are klutzy, uncoordinated, and, in Gobert’s case, weak at times.
Comparing Euro league players to NBA players is difficult to do. I’m always skeptical when it comes to drafting Euro players, because the Knicks have either traded them away (Kostas Papanikolaou. Yes, I needed to search his name on Google), or they never played a single game (Frederic Weis aka the guy that got dunked on by Vince Carter in the 2000 Olympics). Gobert has said that he’ll be working on his poor offensive game the most throughout the offseason. His work ethic is simply “get better” at whatever he needs to really work on, and I really like that. His projected draft stock is about a mid-to-late first rounder.