Ben Simmons has said countless times this season that he believes he's the NBA's best defensive player. Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers agreed on several occasions that his starting guard should win Defensive Player of the Year.
Even Joel Embiid, a guy who's been looking to take that award home for years now, pined for Simmons to win it not too long ago. Despite being a legitimate DPOY candidate with key names campaigning for him, Simmons still has a major obstacle in front of him. That obstacle happens to be Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert.
Having previously won the award twice already in his career, Gobert is well on his way to obtaining a trio of trophies, recognizing he's one of the best defensive players in the game. While it seemed the award was Simmons' to lose at times throughout the year, NBA.com's latest DPOY ladder favors the Jazz big man over Simmons in the final week. Here's what Steve Aschburner has to say on listing Gobert as the top dog over Simmons.
"Most defensive stats (dubious as some are) favor Gobert over Simmons, in the apples vs. oranges comparison of guys handling vastly different defensive roles. But Simmons’ coach Doc Rivers gives no ground to Utah’s Snider in touting his guy. After Simmons messed up the Bulls’ late-game offense last week, the Sixers coach told reporters: “You don’t see me campaigning and I’m not going to, but I’m just gonna say it again, there’s not a better defender in this league. That last side out of bounds play, they ran a great action, Ben blew it up completely, they couldn’t get the ball in, he gets a steal, and the game’s over.”
Simmons' argument in favor of himself winning the award remained consistent this season. He's extremely versatile and can guard one through five. Meanwhile, Gobert is primarily a rim-protector. Unfortunately for Simmons, it seems the versatility factor might not be enough for him to get what he wants.