Rudy Gobert became the face of the Utah Jazz franchise the moment when Gordon Hayward chose the Boston Celtics as his next employer. So it makes sense that Gobert would occupy another position Hayward once held. He’s the Most Influential Person in Utah Sports.
Gobert is the No. 1 choice in The Salt Lake Tribune’s annual rankings for multiple reasons. His breakthrough season in 2016-17 made him an All-NBA second-team selection and the runner-up in the voting for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. He also was third in the Most Improved Player balloting, reflecting his growth on both ends of the court. And his eagerness to step forward as the team’s leader seemed to having a bonding effect on a fan base that was disappointed and even embittered by Hayward’s departure in free agency.