Victor Wembanyama says Rudy Gobert deserves DPOY this season but ‘after that it’s no longer his turn’

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama is all for Minnesota Timberwolves star and fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert winning the Defensive Player of the Year award this season because it will no longer be “his turn” to win it in the future.

Gobert, who already has three Defensive Player of the Year awards to his name, has been a defensive stalwart for the Timberwolves in the 2023-24 regular season.

He ranks first on the team in blocks per game with 2.1 and is also averaging 0.6 steals per contest across 63 games (all starts) in his second season in Minnesota.

The 31-year-old has served as an elite rim protector for one of the top defensive teams in the NBA. Minnesota ranks tops in the league in defensive rating (108.3) and allows the fewest points per game (106.7).

As great as Gobert has been on the defensive end of the ball this season, Wembanyama has put up even better defensive numbers so far in his rookie season. He is averaging a league-high 3.4 blocks to go along with 1.3 steals per game with the Spurs.

For reference, Gobert has never averaged more than 2.7 blocks per game in a single season since he was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the opening round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

But Gobert’s defensive impact this season has translated into a lot more collective success compared to Wembanyama’s Spurs.

The numbers point to the Spurs being one of the worst defensive teams in basketball, as they rank in the bottom 10 in the NBA in points allowed per game (119.9), opponent 3-point percentage (37.9 percent) and opponent field-goal percentage (49.1 percent).

The Timberwolves and Spurs are also nearly in opposite positions in the Western Conference standings. Minnesota sits as the No. 3 seed in the conference with a 45-21 record and is just one game back of the No. 1 seed.

The Spurs, meanwhile, currently own the worst record in the conference by a sizable margin at 14-52.

While Wembanyama’s incredible defensive chops haven’t translated into many wins for the Spurs this season, he projects to be a perennial contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.