Morning links: Rudy Gobert a top candidate for most improved player; Big 12 expansion losing momentum

Phillip Barnett of Uproxx focused on three young NBA players as top candidates for the most improved player award, and Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert made the list.

He writes, “Utah’s identity this season will have as much to do with Rudy Gobert as it does with Gordon Hayward. For everything leading many to believe that the Jazz will make a huge jump this year — and there is quite a bit — Gobert’s existence should lead and finish all of those conversations.”

After mentioning Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, Barnett continued, “Preventing buckets is more important than producing them, and Gobert may be the best defender in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard deserved both of his Defensive Player of the Year awards, but that hardware should be Gobert’s to lose for the next half decade. Everything Utah does on that end is designed to funnel the ball toward Gobert. He’s excellent at staying in front of guards when placed in pick-and-roll situations and even better at recovering back to his man after the ball moves.”

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