Rudy Gobert echoes Jarrett Allen’s mindset on contesting dunk attempts

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Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how great a defensive player one might be, a highlight-reel dunk against him could be in the offing at any time. Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen recently commented on such plays, which drew a similar thought from fellow defensive standout Rudy Gobert.

The conversation took place with J.J. Redick on his “The Old Man and The Three” podcast.

“Jarrett Allen was on recently, and I asked him about his mentality around contesting dunk attempts,” Redick said to Gobert. “And he had this great answer where he said, ‘You’re gonna be on a highlight either way. You might as well try to make it your own highlight.'”

The Minnesota Timberwolves center echoed that idea.

“I think I agree with Jarrett,” Gobert said. “I think we as bigs, especially as bigs that have the responsibility of protecting the paint, we have a lot of very athletic guys that come at us every night, and we have to learn how to navigate those things.

“My mindset is that I gotta make sure that the opposite team get the toughest shot possible.”

The exchange was timely in that it came in the wake of two highlight-reel dunks by Christian Braun of the Denver Nuggets against Gobert’s Timberwolves. The first of the back-to-back trips down the court was a dunk over Gobert himself, and the second was on an alley-oop pass off a fast break.

Such a video can be the cost of doing business for the NBA’s top defenders. Gobert is the overwhelming betting favorite to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year, which would be his fourth time capturing that award. He is averaging 12.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game this season for Minnesota.

Allen is considered by some to be one of the better rim protectors in the league and is averaging 10.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest for Cleveland. But the 25-year-old has said he believes he does not get the recognition he deserves, particularly on the defensive end.

Increased recognition could come from outstanding playoff performances on that big stage, and Allen will have a chance at that very soon. The Cavs are likely heading back to the playoffs for a second straight season and looking to fare better than the first-round loss they suffered to the New York Knicks last year.

With two games remaining in the regular season, the Cavs are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, one game behind the Knicks in third place and one game ahead of the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers in fifth and sixth place, respectively.

Cleveland has a key game at home against Indiana on Friday before ending with another home game against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.

Allen and his teammates will then have an opportunity to create some highlight-reel plays of their own as they look to win a playoff series for the first time since 2018.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.