NBA: Ranking the top 20 players that impact the game in non-scoring roles

NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Chris Paul (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Chris Paul (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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NBA Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

8. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert is the best shot-blocker in this generation. In this era, he is what Dikembe Mutumbo was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although he only averages 2.2 blocks per game for his career, he makes players miss shots who are worried about him blocking it away.

As of March of 2018, opposing players were shooting 58 percent within five feet of the rim when Gobert was guarding the paint. His defensive real plus-minus was No. 1 in the league at 5.46. When you think of the Jazz under Quin Snyder you think of a great defensive team and Rudy Gobert is the anchor for their defense.

7. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers

Many basketball fans look at the numbers Kawhi Leonard is putting up and think that’s why he is great, 26.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Those are all impressive numbers, but the thing that stands out for me about him is his poise. You can’t speed up Kawhi, he’ll always get the shot he wants and where he wants it at. If you double team or trap him, he’ll make the right decision.

In the fourth quarter of a game, he’ll get to all his spots, and he shoots 49 percent from the field. He is a leader that leads by example, his resume speaks for itself. Two NBA championships, two finals MVPs and a four-time All-Star. On the defensive end, he has won Defensive Player of the Year twice. He is a lockdown defender if his offense is struggling he’ll still come up with the clean steal or good contest on a jump shot.

He is one of the first players I’ve ever seen that can walk up to an offensive player and take the ball away from them effortlessly. While most steal leaders gamble and get in the passing lanes, Kawhi can walk up to you and take it like a bully taking someone’s lunch money. He is the modern-day Scottie Pippen with a Michael Jordan mentality on offense.