No awards but one big honor for Rudy Gobert on his 25th birthday

SALT LAKE CITY — Rudy Gobert is never a player who shies away from a challenge, an opponent, a possible shot to swat or an opportunity to express his opinion.

That was the case this past season when his French pal Nicolas Batum tweeted to him after the All-Star selections were made.

“So,” Batum wrote, “no All Star for @rudygobert27 (thinking face emoji) … DPOY I guess.”

Gobert’s response was oh-so Gobert.

“They already decided who the DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year) is gonna be Nic,” the Jazz center wrote. “I’ll just keep controlling what I can control and keep helping my team win games.”

Although The Stifle Tower might not have been correct about the award’s recipient being determined at that point — voting by the media panel wasn’t for another three months — the result turned out how he anticipated.

Gobert was a finalist but did not receive DPOY honors during Monday’s inaugural NBA Awards Show. Warriors big man Draymond Green, often lauded for his defensive versatility, ran away with the award, picking up 434 total points and 73 first-place votes.

Gobert, the NBA leader in blocked shots, defensive win shares, and defensive real plus-minus, was the DPOY runner-up with 269 total points and 16 first-place votes. Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was third with 182 points and 11 first-place votes.

Gobert was also a finalist for the Most Improved Player award, but the 7-foot-1 center was also passed up for that award in favor of Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (428 points, 80 first-place votes).

Gobert was third (113 points, one first-place vote) after Denver center Nikola Jokic (161, 14). Jazz wings Gordon Hayward (three third-place votes) and Joe Ingles (one vote)…

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