The Philadelphia 76ers have two players who have been named finalists for seasonal awards this year. Center Joel Embiid is one of three finalists for MVP, while Ben Simmons is one of three finalists for Defensive Player of the Year.
While Embiid's MVP campaign might've been affected by his string of absences due to injuries, Simmons' case for Defensive Player of the Year remains strong because of his versatility of the defensive side of the ball.
Throughout the season, Simmons has stated his case and defended his belief that he's the best defender in the NBA. His teammates have agreed, and so has his head coach. Now, Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks joins the club after seeing Simmons defend in the 2021 NBA Playoffs for the last five games.
"I don't know if he's gonna get Defensive Player of the Year, but I think he's Defensive Player of the Year," Brooks said following Washington's Game 5 loss against the Sixers on Wednesday night. "Not too many guys can guard one through five. He can guard one through five. There are some guys that can guard one position and do it well, but there is only a handful of guys that can do it like he does."
Simmons might face a lot of criticism for his lack of shooting on the offensive side of the ball, but his defense remains respected no matter what. As he embraces the idea of sticking each team's best defender and will move to any position to do so, Simmons earned his spot as a DPOY candidate this year.
Will he win it? Only time will tell. While the versatility factor is certainly Simmons' best argument, Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert remains stiff competition in the race for the award. He's already won it twice before, making him a voting favorite over the years. However, Simmons certainly has a legitimate shot. Regardless if he takes the hardware home or not, Simmons continues to earn the respect of his peers, which will go a long way in future voting.