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Is Ben Simmons making a good case for the Defensive Player Of The Year award? | 2020-21 NBA season

Ben Simmons guarding Miami Heat's Tyler Herro
Ben Simmons guarding Miami Heat's Tyler Herro

Ben Simmons recently made the news after he proclaimed that he is the best defender in the NBA and deserves the 'Defensive Player of the Year' (DPOY) award.

The statement was met with a variety of responses, with some agreeing with Simmons' take while others suggesting that there are better defenders than him.

His coach Doc Rivers instantly supported his star player and said he is a "lock" for DPOY this season.

Ben Simmons' defense this year and his case for DPOY

Ben Simmons on defense
Ben Simmons on defense

Ben Simmons is putting a clinic on the defensive end of the floor this season. He believes he deserves the DPOY award because no one else has the versatility he possesses.

The other major candidate for the award is Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. When Simmons was asked about Gobert's chances for the award over him, he said:

"No disrespect to Rudy at all, he is a great shot blocker, defender, but he’s not guarding one through five, he is guarding fives and probably big fours...you can’t tell him to go guard Kawhi [Leonard] or Paul [George] or guard a point guard. He’s not doing that on a daily basis."

There is a lot of truth in his statement. The average height of an NBA point guard is 6'3" whereas Ben Simmons is 6'10". His height gives him an advantage in any given defensive situation.

41.1% of Ben Simmons' defensive assignments are at the three-point line and 58.9% are within the arc. Whereas Rudy Gobert is found guarding the three-point line just 20% of the time and 80% of his defensive stops are on two-pointers.

In an era of "position-less basketball" and high-volume three-point shooting, Ben Simmons is the ideal choice over Rudy Gobert.

When Simmons is guarding the perimeter, players shoot just 34.9%. His ability to be in multiple places within a short span of time is incredible as he uses his quickness and agility to be at the right place at the right time.

From chase-down blocks to putting the clamps on a player, Simmons can do it all. Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers spoke about his star point guard and said:

"...Ben Simmons is a lock for DPOY. He guards every position. He's everywhere. He literally at times swallows players and I've not seen that."

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Ben Simmons' impact on his team's defense is undeniable. The Philadelphia 76ers rebound better, get more steals and their overall defensive rating shoots up by more than four points when Simmons is on the floor.

Their opponents commit more turnovers and their assists and rebounding numbers drop. Simmons is active on defense from the first play of the game and does not slow down until the final buzzer.

The 76ers are second in the league in defensive rating and second in overall steals and blocks, and a major part of that is Ben Simmons. He is fourth in the league in deflections and loose balls recovered.

He uses his wingspan and length to crowd passing lanes and come up with steals. The 24-year-old got his first-ever steals title last year and has been in the top 20 in defensive win shares ever since his rookie season.

However, Simmons has taken it up a notch this year as he is third in the league in defensive win shares and seventh in defensive rating. He is keeping his opponents to 42.2% from the field, which is the fifth-best in the league for players who get 10+ shot attempts on them.

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Ben Simmons clearly makes a strong case for his first-ever Defensive Player of the Year award and he evidently deserves it more than Rudy Gobert or Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner.

There have only been five guards to ever win the DPOY award as it is mainly awarded to big men. Ben Simmons might become the sixth backcourt player ever to hoist the trophy.

Also Read: Player in Focus: Kyrie Irving and his journey so far with the Brooklyn Nets | NBA Season 2020-21

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Edited by Arjun Panchadar
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