Going into the season, the Jazz hoped for improvement from their big man after an injury-riddled third season, but Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey acknowledged that he couldn't have quite guessed how far Gobert would come.
"We certainly didn't see this coming," Lindsey said. "We try not to make those predictions. We tried to go get players with tools. Rudy's an example of someone with unique tools and a great mindset. You add that with hard work and unique things can happen."
Gobert was the key for a team that ranked third in defensive rating (102.7) this season, helping elevate the Jazz to 51 wins and a berth to the Western Conference semifinals. His brisk return from injury in the playoffs helped Utah prevail in rugged seven-game series with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Among the second-team honorees, Gobert's 339-point tally was closest to making the first team: He finsished just four points shy of first-team center Anthony Davis of New Orleans. Gobert had 43 first-team votes, 38 second-team votes and 10 third-team votes from the 100 NBA writers who comprise the All-NBA voting body.
Gobert has maintained confidence in his ability throughout the season. When he missed the All-Star roster in January, he told reporters: "They're gonna see. They're gonna see."
The 24-year-old is reportedly set to earn a bonus in his contract for making All-NBA. Lindsey said he hoped to see similar growth for other young players in the organization.
The other Jazz star, forward Gordon Hayward, was left off the list, which has consequences for his summer free agency.
Having missed All-NBA honors despite becoming Utah's first All-Star since Deron Williams in 2011, Hayward fails to qualify for the designated veteran player exception negotiated under the league's last CBA. It would have enabled the Jazz to offer him as much as 35 percent of the salary cap in July when it's expected he will opt out of his contract and become a free agent.
The difference means tens of millions of dollars that the Jazz are unable to offer Hayward, and potentially a tighter competition for his services this summer as he comes off a career year (21.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.4 apg).
Lindsey told reporters on Thursday that his biggest offseason goal was player retention, and that the Jazz organization was working "with every fiber" to bring Hayward back to Utah.
Voting on a 5-3-1 basis by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters:
Player, position 1st 2nd 3rd Total
G James Harden, Hou 100 500
F LeBron James, Cle 99 1 498
G Russell Westbrook, OKC 99 1 498
F Kawhi Leonard, SA 96 3 1 490
C Anthony Davis, NO 45 34 16 343
C Rudy Gobert, Utah 43 38 10 339
G Stephen Curry, GS 1 93 6 290
F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mil 81 15 258
F Kevin Durant, GS 3 66 26 239
G Isaiah Thomas, Bos 71 23 236
F Draymond Green, GS 4 21 51 134
G John Wall, Was 19 68 125
F Jimmy Butler, Chi 19 45 102
G DeMar DeRozan, Tor 4 50 62
C DeAndre Jordan, LAC 3 7 18 54
Others receiving votes (first-team votes in parentheses): Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota, (2) 50; Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers, 49; Marc Gasol, Memphis, (2) 48; DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans, (2) 42; Paul George, Indiana, 40; Gordon Hayward, Utah, 27; Hassan Whiteside, Miami, 18; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, 14; Klay Thompson, Golden State, 14; Nikola Jokic, Denver, (1) 12; Damian Lillard, Portland, 12; Paul Millsap, Atlanta, 3; LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio, 1; Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers, 1; Al Horford, Boston, 1.