Northwest Notes: Gobert, Edwards, Brogdon, Giddey

It’s only been seven games, but the 5-2 Timberwolves have to be encouraged by what they’ve seen from Rudy Gobert, who has looked much more like the player who earned six straight All-Defensive First Team appearances and won three Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2016-22, as opposed to the player who didn’t receive a single vote for an All-Defensive squad last season.

In fact, Gobert believes he’s playing better than he ever has, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details.

Not even my old self. I feel better than I’ve ever felt because I feel like I’m stronger than I’ve been,” Gobert said earlier this season. “And I just see the experience that I have now, and you add that to the rest of the abilities that I have, I think that’s the best that I’ve been.”

The Wolves have the league’s top defense thus far in 2023/24 and Gobert has been a major reason why, according to Krawczynski, who writes that the 7’1″ big man has been noticeably more mobile and athletic than he was in ’22/23. Head coach Chris Finch met with Gobert over the summer to stress that the team needed him to be more flexible defensively, and he has been pleased with the 31-year-old’s level of buy-in.

Being able to keep your mind open and being able to adapt, I think this is the strength of the best teams in the world,” Gobert said, per Krawczynski. “And I feel like right now we are creating our identity. And soon enough, I think people are gonna have to adapt to us and not the opposite.”

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Speaking to Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link), Gobert says Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards has a chance to be an All-Defensive team member in the future. “The things he can do are incredible,” Gobert said. “He has all the tools to be an All-Defensive type of player. He has the one that you don’t teach, which is the fire, wanting to take every possession personally.” Gobert added that while Edwards is an impressive on-ball defender, he has challenged the former No. 1 overall pick to be better and more alert off the ball.
  • Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon exited Wednesday’s loss to Sacramento due to a left hamstring strain and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest, Portland announced (via Twitter). We’ll have to wait for further updates to see how long the reigning Sixth Man of the Year might be sidelined.
  • Thunder guard/forward Josh Giddey received a technical foul in the second quarter of Monday’s victory over Atlanta, but it has been rescinded, the NBA announced on Thursday (Twitter link). The No. 6 pick of the 2021 draft, Giddey will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next offseason after having his fourth-year option exercised last month.
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