Ben Simmons is already wowing people with his defensive prowess.
At the end of the 2019-2020 season, the general consensus amongst Sixers fans was that Ben Simmons had been “snubbed” in the NBA’s “Defensive Player of the Year” voting. Simmons finished the year leading the league in steals per game and had established himself as arguably the best on-ball defender in all of basketball.
It was frustrating for fans to watch Giannis win the award instead – and it must’ve been even more frustrating for Simmons (especially considering the fact that his season ultimately ended due to injury).
Heading into 2021, and Simmons has wasted little time throwing his name right back into the DPOY conversation.
Going up against the Knicks, Simmons was tasked with guarding last year’s first-round pick RJ Barrett. Simmons occasionally drifted onto Julius Randle, but for the most part, it was his job to lock up Barrett on the perimeter.
And Simmons did just that.
Despite playing a team-high 37 minutes, Barrett finished the game with just 10 points. He shot an abysmal 2-15 from the field, and recorded four turnovers. Simmons had an answer for every single one of Barrett’s moves, and the lefty’s offensive struggles were a big reason the Knicks were only able to muster up 82 total points.
Simmons also had 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and finished with a commanding +22 in the box score. It was a very strong performance from the 2x All-Star, and one that primarily showed off his elite defensive capabilities.
Ultimately speaking, winning the DPOY award won’t be an easy task. Both Giannis and Anthony Davis will be in the running for it – and they’re obviously fantastic defenders in their own regard. However, if Ben can keep on putting up performances like he did against Barrett and the Knicks, it’ll be seriously hard for the NBA to not award him the honors when it’s all said and done.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire
David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.