No one can say Rudy Gobert doesn't have size, youth and ability on his side. But what is unknown about the 7'1 center out of France is how he will make the adjustment to the NBA in 2013. First thing is first however: can Gobert make the jump from Europe to the NBA or would a few more seasons overseas be the better move to make?
When the Denver Nuggets selected a lanky athletic 19-year old French kid with the 20th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, many scribes and even front offices around the league wondered how Evan Fournier would adjust from playing in the French Pro-A to the Association.
With 8 games under his belt at 8.6 minutes per game for the Nuggets, those questions and more remain unanswered about the 6'6 shooting guard. The better debate now surrounding Fournier is, how much longer will Denver wait before sending him down on assignment to get some D-League run?
A number of European players who made the jump over this season -- Victor Claver (Portland), Joel Freeland (Portland), Donatas Motiejunas (Houston) -- only to land in the D-League probably are all telling their boys back home all about life in the NBA and how they didn't sign up for logging time in the D-League, but that is the nature of the business.
Call it a dose of reality for Euro import rookies.
Call it something Rudy Gobert should take note of.
Earlier this week it was reported by French hoops site Catch and Shoot.com that Gobert - the 7'1, 230 pound center out of northern France's Saint-Quentin, Aisne -- is pondering throwing his name into the 2013 NBA Draft after spending the last two seasons in Pro-A playing for Cholet.
This season, Gobert is averaging 8.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 19.6 minutes per game, all numbers which are up from his the last two seasons in Pro-A when the 20-year old averaged 4.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 13 minutes per game (2010-11) and 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in 14 minutes per game (2011-12).
"I want to go the NBA next season," said Gobert. "I don't want to play another season in Europe. I know that it is going to be tough and that I need to add muscle. I don't care about the team, if I will be picked in the NBA draft in high position, I will have minutes on the court"
Don't be so sure of that just yet young buck.
Gobert's size and raw upside would make him easily enticing for a number of teams who aren't afraid to develop project players, but thinking being a high draft pick equals playing time is part wishful thinking, part being naive. Go ahead and ask Hasheem Thabeet how being a high draft pick and getting playing time worked out for him.
One take on Gobert: he could be the highest French draft pick since Joakim Noah by the Chicago Bulls (9th overall) in 2007. The logical knock there is that Noah was a two time NCAA champion (2006 and 2007) at Florida, was named the Most Outstanding Player (2006) and was a consensus All-American Second Team (2007). We're not talking about a kid here who was fresh off of three seasons in the French Pro-A.
If Gobert really wants to make it to the NBA -- and actually achieve staying power instead of bouncing up and down between the D-League and the NBA or even around the league -- is to take the next three years to fully develop overseas, both with the idea of elevating himself to higher leagues around Europe and establishing a strong foothold playing for the French National Team. The development here must be a patient process, which is typically the mindset to take when you are working with young centers, particularly those of the 7'1 nature.
With it being late December and all, there is plenty of time to watch how this storyline with Gobert develops over the next few months as names and faces from the international game begin to make their story more known in anticipation of the 2013 NBA Draft.
Some will take their time with their decision to ensure it is a wise move.
Others will go all in.
It appears for right now that Rudy Gobert falls into the "all in" group.