Ben Simmons campaigns for DPOY
Despite still being just 24-years-old, Ben Simmons has already accomplished quite a lot in his young National Basketball Association career. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2018 following his debut season and has since been a three-time NBA All-Star. Simmons led the entire league in steals last season, prompting him to be named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
But he is not quite satisfied just yet apparently. On Tuesday while making an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump, Simmons discussed the possibility of being named the 2021 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and why he believed he should take home the honour over another candidate for the award Rudy Gobert. Simmons opted to use his own experience playing against the Utah Jazz’ center to lobby his case.
“He’s great down there in the paint, but he’s not guarding everybody,” Simmons said, via ESPN. “He guarded me in Utah…and I had 42 (points). And apparently, I’m not a scorer. I have a lot of respect for him, but I think it’s (DPOY) mine this year.”
Simmons was of course talking about the Philadelphia 76ers’ loss to the Utah Jazz on February 15th, where he put up a career-high in points with 42 while Gobert was covering him. While the 76ers ended up losing the contest 134-123, Simmons scored significantly more points than his average of just 14.8. At the time, he told reporters that he felt disrespected that the Jazz would have the center covering him.
“I loved it when I saw Rudy was guarding me,” Simmons said, via SI. “I love being able to go at somebody like that. I felt like it was a little bit of a disrespect putting him on me, but it is what it is.”
Gobert took home the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in both 2018 and 2019, while also having been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team a total of four times during his career. He never led the league in steals like Simmons did last season, but he did finish with the most blocks in the NBA in 2017.
Unfortunately for fans, the 76ers do not have another game against the Jazz this season so the only time these two can meet again this year is if both teams reach the NBA Final. Simmons has never been past the second-round of the playoffs with the 76ers, but the team is hoping this year will be different as they continue their run of fine form atop the Eastern Conference.
Simmons also reflected on what he has learned over the years, in particular how difficult it is to get the job done during the postseason.
“That one shot with Kawhi against the Raptors, that was tough. But that was an experience where it made me think, ‘It’s not easy to win,’ especially when it comes to playoffs,” the Sixers star told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
Philadelphia had no choice but to watch as Toronto went on the win the 2019 NBA championship by taking out the Golden State Warriors in six games.