Ben Simmons has been gunning for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award for a few years now. A few seasons ago, the Philadelphia 76ers' versatile guard emerged as one of the best defenders at his position.

At this point, he's arguably the best defensive player in the league as he's not only fantastic at guarding the guards who are smaller than him -- but he's a versatile player who can take on any player at any position.

Last season, Simmons was really in the running for the award. Leading up to his major back injury, the veteran guard was probably the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, but his setback took him off the court for weeks before the NBA's hiatus.

Although Simmons came up short for the award, he was working so hard for, he did receive NBA All-Defensive First Team honors at the end of the 2019-2020 season. This year, he'll more than likely earn the same honors for a second-straight time, but he's also got an excellent chance of taking home the hardware for DPOY again as well.

“I think Ben for sure is in that mix, and Joel’s had a terrific defensive year as well. I think Ben is absolutely [in the conversation]," Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said recently. "I don’t think it’s a question he was in it."

Rivers, who claims he doesn't campaign for his players, mentioned he couldn't help but promote his star as he believes he's the top defensive player in the NBA. While Simmons isn't surely a clear-cut front runner for the award as there are plenty of talented defenders in the league who are in the conversation, rightfully so -- Rivers thinks that Simmons' versatility should be enough to give him an edge.

“I think because Ben plays everyone,” the coach explained. “Ben doesn’t just play 5s. Ben plays 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. He’s played every position on the floor. When he’s played those positions, he’s been able to come up with stops. There are very few players in NBA who can do the things that Ben does defensively.”

Through the first half of the season, it's probably safe to assume Simmons is the frontrunner for the award. However, there's still tons of basketball left to be played, and Simmons will have to remain healthy and sustain his high level of play defensively to win the award truly.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_ & Instagram: @JGrassoNBA.