The pros & cons of trading for Rudy Gobert

A report from Ian Bagley of SNYtv suggests the Toronto Raptors would have a "degree"of interest if Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became available in a potential trade. Amit Mann and Yasmin Duale discuss the pros and cons of Gobert becoming a Raptor.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Look at his contract, look at the player. He's averaging $41 million a season, which, by the way, is like $6, $7 million more than Donovan Mitchell, which I'm sure is something that doesn't really sit well with Donovan necessarily. Anyways, he's in the second season of that deal. He has a player option 2025, '26.

So, obviously, any salary you take on of that magnitude, it's going to have a huge impact on what you're able to do on both ends of the court. But with that said-- I mean, Rudy is a pretty good player, at least defensively. And so there are pros to the Raptors getting him.

And in some ways, you know, a lot of their deficiencies, a lot of their weaknesses, he would address them. Care to discuss some of those?

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, he would-- yeah, he would be that paint presence that would solve basically all of the defensive problems that they currently have.

AMIT MANN: All of them, yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: Most of them, I say like a solid 70% of them. But-- and they would also give the playmakers on the team-- so Pascal, Scottie, and Fred-- it would give them just a rolling threat, someone who is just like a lob threat, who is kind of like with certain passes a guaranteed basket around the paint area, so-- or around the restricted area, rather.

So I feel like that's something that the Raptors are missing. Like, Precious has done a great job trying to fill that void. But, ultimately, I think they just need a 7 footer, who's going to catch whatever you throw in that vicinity.

Like, I get so jealous when I see teams just toss whatever blind pass towards the basket. And there's a big coming out of nowhere to finish it. Like, we rarely see that-- have that luxury. As a Raptors fan, every bucket is like a grind. It's a struggle.


YASMIN DUALE: So that would be like a-- it would be, like, something that I'd love to see but-- especially with how Boucher is always around the perimeter on the team. So he's not really the best screener because he is not really a traditional center. So we don't really get to see him in that rolling role.

So who knows? Scottie might be 7 feet by next season. So this might be--

AMIT MANN: Bank on it, right?


AMIT MANN: Exactly.

YASMIN DUALE: So we're into Scottie, like--


YASMIN DUALE: --come on.


YASMIN DUALE: [INAUDIBLE] we got to do, kid.

AMIT MANN: I mean, you look at like the Raptors identity. And it's like this defense. It's offensive rebounding. And it's kind of transition play. And, you know, Rudy would help with a lot of those because he is a terrific defensive rebounder.

And that is one of their biggest shortcomings collectively. Some of that is just through the system. But if you have Rudy Gobert back there, then in theory, you don't need to be as aggressive. Because you want to funnel players to Rudy Gobert, who is going to likely--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, it would--



AMIT MANN: Likely block the shot, right?

YASMIN DUALE: It would change the defensive scheme because you would be-- the Raptors right now, I feel like they're just kind of like breaking their box, keeping-- trying to contain the perimeter because there is nothing once you pass that perimeter. So I think we saw it so much throughout the Sixers series, where players would penetrate the perimeter. And then they'd be able to do whatever they want.

AMIT MANN: You play drop with Rudy Gobert. And the high pick and roll is such a huge part of NBA offenses now. And he's so good. Like, at 7 feet, 260, he's so agile for-- at his size. And it's a benefit to have, you know, someone who's able to, like, guarding the perimeter a little bit, I guess, if-- unless it's Steph Curry, who can make them look kind of silly sometimes.

But he does a decent job out there. And then on the other side of it too, around the bucket, he is your anchor. And he's an immovable object as you said. And you're going to have a lot of success defensively.

YASMIN DUALE: You think about--


YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, you think about how-- the way the Raptors avoid the paint when Embiid is kind of hovering in that area.

AMIT MANN: Exactly.

YASMIN DUALE: That would be such a great addition to the team, to have that kind of-- it doesn't have to be Gobert. But perhaps, it'll affect their drafting process. Or maybe they can trade in the off-season for a more affordable player, who would fill a similar role in terms of just having the size and the rim protection.

AMIT MANN: No question. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year, could have been four this year. Some people felt like maybe he should have been. But also among qualified players, fourth in defensive win shares this season. So clearly, huge impact player on that end of the court.

Offensively, a bit of a different story. And we'll get to some of the cons of trading for Rudy Gobert. But to his credit, I mean, he shot 69% from the free throw line. That's the best in his career. He led the NBA in rebounds per game, as I mentioned earlier.

And as a screener, I mean, that's kind of how he's used mostly with the Utah Jazz is that he's setting screen, it feels like, for the entire possession. And he's just trying to get open looks for other people. And then all of a sudden, as you said, lob threat. He's pretty good at that.

And Fred VanVleet-- overall, the Raptors need to find ways to generate, like, easier half-court offense. And having something like that, it makes things a lot easier. And then all of a sudden, a double happen on the perimeter. You pass Rudy Gobert. He's able to find someone around the 3-point line. You get an open jumper. Or you've got a cutter or something like that.

There's ways that he could really benefit the offense as well. However, there are cons to Rudy Gobert on the offensive end. Actually, there's a lot. And that's why he's one of the more interesting players, who's making--


AMIT MANN: --you know, as a max player. Go ahead.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, I think his limitations-- you're right, it makes it difficult to see him on your team considering his paycheck. So I feel like in today's league, you want the largest roster check going towards the most involved offensive producer, in my opinion. Preferably like a two-way wing I feel like is the ideal way that the roster construction would be-- like the hierarchy would have it your two-way [INAUDIBLE] at the very top and then ideal-- on the ideal team.

So Gobert, yeah, he doesn't fit that archetype at all. And I see the same kind of hesitancy towards high paid point guards. You don't see them as much as you may have maybe less than a decade ago.

So yeah, it's hard to see him occupying that much real estate on the cap space. I-- yeah, and then you extend it to his limitations on offense. This is a team that is deficient in the shooting department already. So seeing him compromise spacing further, maybe something that I don't want to admit, but it is a fact of the matter. He can't shoot at all.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, so player like Rudy, I think, naturally, you want to compare to some of the other, you know, more expensive centers in the NBA in Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. And the stat that kind sticks out to me a little bit is that from 3 to 10 feet, if you're comparing those three players, Rudy Gobert shoots 45%. Joel Embiid shoots 41%, Nikola Jokic shoots 61%.

But with Embiid and Jokic, they're hovering around like 55% to 60% assisted. Meanwhile, Rudy is 85%, right? And so you talk about his inability to-- I guess, like, when he's holding the ball, it-- you don't know what's going to happen.

It is like he's got those-- he's truly has some [INAUDIBLE] And I swear to god, like, if you were to put some circus music behind when he has the ball-- you did like a little compilation-- all the things that go wrong, it would fit perfectly. Because when he has the ball, you get really scared. You don't know what's going to happen.

And he's such an imposing figure on the defensive end. But then on the other side, once he takes the dribble, you're just like, this guy is, like, easy pickings right now. Because he looks so unconfident, so unsure of himself.

And then you combine that with, I guess, a basketball offensive intellect that isn't really where it should be when it comes to passing out a double teams or when it comes to doing-- you know, like little handoffs or even just like passes to cutters. Everything is off. And--


AMIT MANN: I really-- yeah, go ahead.

YASMIN DUALE: No, no, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

AMIT MANN: I was just going to say that-- like, nine seasons in the NBA, he's been in the NBA for nine years. And--


AMIT MANN: --the stuff still hasn't been figured out at 29 years old. I don't know when it could-- I know the Raptors love projects. But he would be a project that I'm not really sure if they're going to be able to get through necessarily.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, and you think about how this is a young team. I don't think they have the capacity to add on another guy, who does not know what to do when he gets the ball. So I feel like we have--

AMIT MANN: Bad news.

YASMIN DUALE: --our quota filled for those type of players. And I'd rather see it reserved for the much younger talents. It's fine seeing them make mistakes because you're kind of guaranteed that they'll at least come out of it smarter.

But, you know, I feel like that the Raptors should be the type of them-- weirdly enough, I've been watching-- I'm sure you have too. I've been watching Al Horford lately and how great he's been--

AMIT MANN: Oh, amazing.


AMIT MANN: Amazing.

YASMIN DUALE: And that's the impact type of player that I feel like the Raptors would need at center, just a vet who can thrive in a small role that's-- and provides, like, that defensive presence in the paint as well. Like, that's the exact type of talent that they need.


YASMIN DUALE: And I feel like Gobert is just not going to fill that role for them, so. That's-- the Raptors should be looking towards, I think, a stretch big who-- it's fine if they can't do much on offense, honestly. Like, if they can do, like, two things-- catch lobs and shoot--

AMIT MANN: Seriously, yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: --the occasional 3, they're golden, you know? They just have to be competent on-- competent on offense in the sense that they know who to pass it off to. They at least have good hands, just like little things, fringe things that you want in a veteran big.

But we're not asking them to do much, which is exactly-- the fact that we don't need much from that role is precisely why I don't think Gobert is going to happen for them.

AMIT MANN: And that's crazy too because you're not asking for a lot from him. But he really can't do that. Like, it's cool that he can set screens and--

YASMIN DUALE: $40 million.

AMIT MANN: --screen setting. Yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: Full screen.

AMIT MANN: It's true, though, right?


AMIT MANN: And I mean, you can make the argument that the Raptors-- I mean, to some degree, they're a little bit clogged with their talent because they have so much. And so you can think, OK, how could Scottie excel? How could Gary excel?

You could argue that, you know, between-- everyone in the starting lineup, if you took one out, other players could probably up there any little bit. And they can really thrive. And so we're talking about having a kind of a safety as a center isn't a bad idea. Somebody's just going to do their job. And that's as far as it goes.

And even like screen setting, very important. And Rudy is really good at that. But then at some point-- and we've seen this a lot with the Utah Jazz is sometimes it's cool that you're going to be able to run around and set screens. But then, like, what is your-- what is your check doing? Guess what? They're just going to clog in the paint. And now, your teammates don't have any space to do anything at all on the offensive end.

And, again, the Utah Jazz example-- I mean, something that really sticks out to me is that when you think about who's a championship team and who's a playoff team, it's like how bad are your weaknesses. And with Utah, they've never been able to get past that hump to be a true team that is like championship caliber because of this weakness, right?

It's like-- it's glaring. And every single time in the playoffs, it gets exposed at some point.


AMIT MANN: [INAUDIBLE] round one, round two. But it does get there. And that's never going to change as long as Rudy Gobert is that guy. I'm sorry to say. Because he is so good, right?

YASMIN DUALE: Exactly, yeah. No, I was just going to say it. It's the fact that they need more from him, but also he does so much. So removing him off the team would, I feel like, have just-- it would be kind of disastrous.

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