Ben Simmons on DPOY Race With Rudy Gobert: 'He's Not Guarding Everybody'

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Ben Simmons lobbied for Defensive Player of the Year while on ESPN's The Jump on Tuesday and touched on Jazz center Rudy Gobert's case for the award. 

Simmons, who is considered a favorite for the award, said he was a better defender than Gobert in large because the seven-footer is unable to guard multiple positions. He used their own matchup as an example. 

"He's great down there in the paint, but he's not guarding everybody," Simmons said. "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 alluding to the 76ers' 134–123 loss against the Jazz on Feb. 15 where he scored a career-high 42 points. Simmons averages 14.8 points per game. 

After the game, he said he felt disrespected the Jazz put Gobert on him. 

“I loved it when I saw Rudy was guarding me,” Simmons said. “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.”

This isn't the first time Simmons has brought up Gobert's inability to guard multiple positions. During a 2020 Twitch stream, Simmons listed his top five defenders in the NBA and didn't include Gobert—again for the same reason. 

"I'm looking at guys who can guard one through five," Simmons said. 

The 6'10" point forward is widely considered to be the best perimeter defender in the NBA and is a favorite to snag the award this year. His 1.6 steals per game is ranked 10th in the NBA and he made his first All-Defensive First Team selection last season after he led the league in steals. 

Simmons's ability to guard any position and often drawing the opposing team's top offensive threat as a defensive assignment make him a considerable favorite. But Gobert is no slouch. 

Gobert won the award in 2018 and 2019, has four All-Defensive First Team selections and lead the NBA in blocks back in 2017. This season, he's second in rebounding at 13.4 boards per game and second in blocks at 2.8 rejections per contest. 

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