Prior to the season being suspended, the Philadelphia 76ers were definitely providing fans with a roller coaster of emotions. From dominating the Bucks on Christmas Day to being absolutely woeful on the road, this Sixers team has truly given us the best of both worlds.
There is one player who stands out above the rest however, and that man is Benjamin Simmons.
Aside from his ability to take over games by himself offensively, Simmons displays such a unique skill set that many NBA players do not. His 6’10, 230-pound build is an anomaly for his position, which becomes even more spectacular when you factor in his ability to run nearly 20 MPH on the court.
He’s hit his first two three-pointers, but can he cash in another first by the end of the 2019-2020 season?
Defensive Player of the Year
This is an NBA award given to the best defensive player of the regular season. It is voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters, each of whom vote for their first, second, and third selections.
Rudy Gobert has won the award the past two seasons. He only played a combined 137 games out of the possible 164. His stats for the two seasons are as follows:
Making Ben’s Case:
Like mentioned earlier, Simmons is an absolute machine on defense. Here are some of his ranks in 2019-2020:
- 1st in steals (115)
- 1st in steals per game (2.1)
- 2nd in deflections (216)
- 3rd in deflections per game (4)
- 3rd in steal percentage (2.9%)
- 13th in Defensive Wins Shares (3.1)
- 7th in Defensive Box Plus/Minus at plus-2.5.
Along with this, let’s look at his overall stats:
Let’s not forget to mention how some of the top scorers have matched up with him this season…
Sometimes, however, the stats don’t live up to the eye test. Putting the numbers aside, Simmons checks off multiple boxes of defensive player of the year that are above most other defenders in the league:
According to private data provided to SB Nation by NBA Advanced Stats, Simmons’ top recorded speed in 2019 was 19.7 miles per hour, which translates to him racing the length of a court in roughly 3.25 seconds (fastest recorded in the NBA). We all knew Simmons is fast, but his speed is so underrated on the court. Mix that with his vision, and well, you get this:
Have a guy who does not give up on a broken play is a dream for every team, and Ben does this every game. His natural basketball IQ excels his defense even further.
In almost every game, Ben Simmons looks like he’s constantly one step ahead of his opponent. In terms of his defensive ability, he seems to always know where the ball is going to go.
This is what makes him an absolute ball-hawking, steals machine. Not only does he make up more than one-third of the Sixers’ total steals (4th highest in league), his 2.1 steals per game lead the league.
Watch a side by side of Ben single-handedly winning the November 30, 2019 game against the Pacers with back-to-back steals:
Ben Simmons is the league’s tallest point guard, and it’s no secret that it feds into his defending ability. The Aussie can guard every position from the one to the five with no problem.
Not only does his size, speed, and strength drastically outmatch opposing point guards offensively, but they give him an advantage guarding as well. His quickness allows him to be a perfect perimeter defender as well. Watch as he absolutely owns Luka Doncic, leading to the turnover:
Let’s not forget to talk about him guarding opposing centers. Watch as he backs down the bruising center Enes Kanter to draw the foul:
What more do you want to accomplish?
Simmons: “Championships. Finals MVP. I want to be the defensive player of the year.”
Well Ben, you for sure deserve all of the above.
As the Sixers may still be a shooter away from a championship, Ben has made a solid case for himself to take home DPOY. The nine players that he’s guarded for at least 10 minutes have shot a combined 41.5 percent (54 of 130) against him. Overall, players Simmons has defended have shot just 41.3 percent.
Marcus Smart, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis are the other names surrounding this honor right now. Simmons should easily be ranked above David and Sart due to his on-court defensive impact. He and the Greek Freak are a lot closer than most may realize, however for me, Ben topples Giannis in this category from what we’ve seen so far. Now that he’s back to 100% from his back injury, if the season is to return, it’s his award to lose.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports