Rudy Gobert wins his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, first as a member of the Timberwolves

The best defensive player on the best defensive team is — justly — the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

And, for the fourth time in his career — tying an NBA record — that player is Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert.

Gobert joins Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace as the only four-time winners. Gobert is the first Timberwolves player to receive the honor after he won each of his previous three awards as a member of the Utah Jazz.

The news was announced on TNT’s tip-off show Tuesday. Gobert — who welcomed his first child, Romeo, into the world on Monday — was joined at his home by teammate Karl-Anthony Towns.

Gobert received 72 of the 99 first-place votes in a runaway victory, with San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama — his fellow Frenchman — finishing in second place after receiving 19 first-place votes. Miami’s Bam Adebayo was third, and the Los Angeles LakersAnthony Davis was fourth. Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels did not receive any top-three votes.

Gobert said Romeo is “doing great.”

“Just a lot of blessings,” said the big man, who missed Game 2 of the Denver series to witness the birth of his child. “Really grateful.”

After a down season a year ago in which Gobert wasn’t himself physically and Minnesota struggled to adapt defensively to the center’s arrival, the two sides have been a perfect marriage this season.

Gobert was sixth in the NBA in blocked shots this season (2.1) and fourth in defensive rebounds (9.2). Opponents shot just 43 percent from the field when Gobert was the closest defender, a full six percentage points lower than the expected outcome — the biggest differential among players who defended at least 800 shots this season.

Gobert was both an interior presence who negated a number of attempts at the rim and a big who proved naysayers wrong by successfully defending on the perimeter whenever the opportunity presented itself. He was the head of the snake for a defense that allowed just 108.4 points per 100 possessions, 2.2 points per 100 possessions fewer than Boston, who allowed the second fewest.

Timberwolves coach Chris Finch credited Gobert for setting the defensive culture for Minnesota. Gobert told TNT on Tuesday that the team’s defensive success was a result of “great teamwork.”

“We love to give individual awards and all these things, and it’s great. But you can’t do it alone,” Gobert said. “I really have a lot of gratitude for Tim Connelly, Chris Finch, all my teammates for believing in me, allowing me to do the best every day, and just try to change the culture of being in Minnesota. It’s a credit to the guys for buying in and coming into every single night with the same mindset. We really wanted to be a defensive-minded team, and we’ve been able to do that so far this year.”

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