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Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert named NBA defensive player of the year

 The NBA today announced Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has been named the 2023-24 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year. This is Gobert’s fourth career NBA Defensive Player of the Year honor (2023-24, 2020-21, 2018-19 and 2017-18), becoming the third player in NBA history to win the award four times, joining Dikembe Mutombo (2000-01, 1997-98, 1996-97 and 1994-95) and Ben Wallace (2005-06, 2004-05, 2002-03 and 2001-02). Gobert is the first player in Timberwolves history to win Defensive Player of the Year honors. 

Anchored by Gobert’s top defensive rating in the NBA of 106.6 (min. 25 minutes per game), the Timberwolves finished the 2023-24 campaign with the top ranked defense in the NBA (108.4) after ending last season 10th with a defensive rating of 113.1. The gap between the Wolves’ defense and the second ranked Boston Celtics is equivalent to the gap between the second ranked and the 10th ranked Houston Rockets. Minnesota finished this season with a net rating of 6.3, good for third in the NBA and the best net rating in franchise history. Teams took 6.4% less shots at the rim when Gobert was on the floor this season (94th percentile) and shot 6.6% worse at the rim when he played (92nd percentile). 

The 7-1 center wrapped up his 11th season in the NBA and second with the Timberwolves, playing and starting in 76 games this season, the fourth-most appearances in his career and the most games played since he appeared in 81 games in the 2018-19 season. This season, Gobert averaged 14.0 points on 66.1% shooting, a team-best 12.9 rebounds and a team-high 2.13 blocks per contest. His 2.13 blocks were his most blocks per game since 2020-21 (2.68 bpg). He ranked second in the NBA in rebounding (12.9 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.661), second in offensive rebounds (3.8 rpg), fourth in defensive rebounds (9.2 rpg), sixth in blocks (2.13 bpg) and fifth in double-doubles (54). 

Gobert became the fifth player in team history to notch 54 or more point/rebound double-doubles, joining Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, and Karl-Anthony Towns as the only players in franchise history to do so. He tallied 38 double-doubles with at least two blocks during the 2023-24 campaign, the second most such games in franchise history in a single season, trailing only Garnett’s 47 in the 2003-04 season. In one of his best performances of the season against Atlanta on April 12, Gobert led the Timberwolves with a game-high 25 points on a perfect 10-of-10 shooting, a game-high 19 rebounds and five blocks, joining Garnett as the only players in Timberwolves history to finish a game with 25+ points, 19+ rebounds and 5+ blocks. Gobert’s performance against Atlanta set franchise records for most field goal attempts without a miss (10-of-10 FGA) and highest field goal percentage (1.000 FG%) while taking at least 10 attempts. 

The Timberwolves ended the 2023-24 season with a 56-26 record, the second-highest win total in franchise history. Minnesota secured the third seed in the Western Conference, marking the third consecutive year clinching a spot in the NBA Playoffs, the most consecutive seasons making the playoffs since eight straight appearances from 1996-2004. Minnesota won an NBA-best 37 games against Western Conference opponents, the most wins against the West in Timberwolves history. The Wolves led the Western Conference this season with 26 road victories, the second-most road wins in franchise history (27 in 2003-04). Minnesota finished the season 12-4 against Northwest Division opponents, tied for the most wins in team history against division foes (12 in 2021-22).