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Jazz center Rudy Gobert says messing with opponents’ heads is more important than actual blocks

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert just got back from a knee injury that has caused him to miss 26 games this season. Though he is still trying to be fully comfortable on the court, the art of shot blocking is still not lost in his game.

In a recent interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, “The Stifle Tower” shared that his approach on rim protection is not so much about actually swatting the shot, but rather the overall intimidation whenever an opponent goes in the lane.

“If I block shots, that’s good, but my goal is just to play good defense whether I get a block or not… Good defense usually leads to a turnover or a bad shot. Sometimes, guys won’t even shoot; they’ll see me and [rather than challenge me], they’ll just pass it to someone else. That usually ends pretty badly for them. I love blocking shots, but the mental aspect is the most important to me. It’s a mental game.

“Now, I feel like I’m in my opponent’s head before the game even starts. They know what I can do. And getting in their head is bigger than any block. When you get in the other guy’s head, you know you’ve already won the battle.”

Ever since being the Jazz’s full-time starting center midway into the 2014-15 campaign, Gobert has risen to be among the top defensive bigs in the league. Beginning that season, the 7-foot french man has compiled averages of 10.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. Furthermore, his 214 blocks last season led the NBA.