By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
Ben Simmons showed a major improvement in one part of his game this year. He stepped up his skill on the defensive side of the ball and showed that he is arguably one of the best defenders in the NBA right now.
Simmons was at the top of multiple defensive categories this season which begs the question, should he be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year? I believe that he has a very strong case to be a finalist for the award.
This award has not been favorable to players at his position. Over the last 10 years, a center has walked away with the honors seven times. A backcourt player hasn’t been named for the award since the 1995-1996 season when Gary Payton won it with the SuperSonics.
Times are changing in the NBA and so should the standards for how season awards should be valued. Handing the award to the best rim-protecting center should be a thing of the past.
Ben Simmons 2019-2020 defensive statistics
- First in total steals (115)
- First in steals per game (2.1)
- Second in total deflections (216)
- Third in deflections per game (4.0)
- 106.9 defensive rating
The numbers don’t lie, Simmons was one of the best perimeter defenders this season. With shooting and perimeter play being the focus of NBA offenses now should shift the criteria of the award to the best perimeter defenders.
Another reason why Simmons should be in the running for this award is versatility. Ben Simmons stands at 6’10 and has the athleticism to match up against any player in the league when needed.
Top caliber teams have always had that player that prides themselves and defending the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis. Ben Simmons is that guy for the Sixers, and he can do it at all five positions.
He proved that this year shutting down multiple All-Star caliber players when matching up against them.
FG% while defended by Ben Simmons this year:— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) February 19, 2020
Trae Young: 18%
LeBron James: 22%
Pascal Siakam: 26%
Jayson Tatum: 27%
Russell Westbrook: 30%
James Harden: 33%
At his size, there are no real weak points to his games defensively. He can switch off on big men, can lock down wing players, and can defend quicker guards who are much smaller than him.
Ben Simmons built up a very good resume to be in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year award this year. Along with being a lock to be a finalist, he should have a real chance to walk away with the award this season.