Threat to Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert in DPOY race: Ben Simmons
The three-time All-Star has been one of the NBA’s top defenders since he entered the league in 2017. Last season, Ben Simmons was the league’s steals leader and was awarded All-Defensive Team honors.
This year, Simmons’ defensive numbers haven’t quite matched those from last season. However, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers thinks that his star point guard does much more than any box score could reflect.
Recently praising his defensive versatility, Rivers said the 24-year-old “literally at times swallows players.”
Simmons himself hasn’t been shy about throwing his own name in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year while trying to take some of the spotlight off of Rudy Gobert.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently quoted Simmons pointing out deficiencies in the Frenchman’s game:
“He’s a great defender, but I don’t think he’s guarding one through fives. You can’t tell [Rudy Gobert] to go guard Kawhi [Leonard] or Paul [George] or guard a point guard. He’s not doing that on a daily basis.”
Utah Jazz fans might not have loved Simmons’ belittling remarks, but he’s not entirely wrong. At 6-foot-11, the Australian international has the size and athleticism to guard any position on the floor. In an era of positionless basketball, his switchability gives him an edge over big men like Gobert who can run into trouble when forced to guard a smaller player out on the perimeter.