In the last week, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has made some of his most demonstrative statements to date on the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year race. After Monday’s 113-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks, Simmons declared that he wants to be the “clear-cut best defender” in the NBA.
“I don’t want to be second or third,” he further stated.
The next day during, an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump, Simmons let it be known that, in his eyes, Defensive Player of the Year honors are his to lose. He also took aim at his DPOY competition. Namely, Utah Jazz center and two-time DPOY winner Rudy Gobert.
“Definitely, 100 percent,” Simmons said when asked about winning the award.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of respect for Rudy. I know what he’s capable of. I know he’s great down there in the paint but he’s not guarding everybody — and then, that’s just what it is. He guarded me in Utah.”
When probed by host Rachel Nichols about his Utah experience, Simmons noted that he scored a career-high 42 points on Gobert during the February bout with the Jazz.
Clearly, Simmons is confident that he is the best defender in the world. However, some of the numbers show that he has his work cut out for him as relates to toppling Utah’s Stifle Tower.
What Happens When Simmons & Gobert Don’t Have Help?
Given that both teams feature a slew of willing and able defenders behind their DPOY candidates, it’s no wonder that the Sixers and the Jazz each boast top-four defenses. But what happens when Simmons and Gobert are asked to lock down the opposition on their own?
Both are great enough at what they do to maintain an impact, but one player has definitely fared better than the other.