Ben Simmons has taken the Jazz-Sixers rivalry to a new level. His back-and-forth with Rudy Gobert is adding new dimensions to their strife.
The Utah Jazz have the best record in the league at 41-14 today. But the Sixers, on the other hand, have compiled this year’s second-best defensive record thus far.
This isn’t to say that the Jazz have necessarily been worse on defense. But the efforts, personnel and instincts displayed by the Sixers overall has definitely been more noticeable.
It seems criminal for a Jazz player not to be in the running for the big awards. This is possibly a part of why Rudy Gobert is at the top of the latest NBA.com DPOY standings.
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Ben Simmons explains why he thinks he’s the DPOY over Rudy Gobert
Ben Simmons was recently on air with Rachel Nichols and Brian Windhorst of ESPN. He detailed his thoughts on this year’s Defensive Player of the Year race:
“I’m one of those guys who can guard 1 through 5. Obviously, there’s a lot of respect for Rudy. I know what he’s capable of. I know he’s great down there in the paint, but he’s not guarding everybody and that’s just what it is.”
“He guarded me in Utah…I had 42 and apparently I’m not a scorer. It is what it is, but I have a lot of respect for him. At the same time, I think it’s mine this year.”
“He guarded me in Utah… and I had 42 and apparently I’m not a scorer” – Ben Simmons on if Rudy Gobert should win the DPOTY Award. pic.twitter.com/Y0mcVrqdxL
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) April 13, 2021
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Now Ben may have a point, but Gobert’s whole candidature is that he’s the entire defensive system for the Jazz by himself. They make sure everyone driving to the paint is funnelled straight to the Stifle Tower, and Gobert deters shots like few players we’ve seen in the modern NBA.
So if I had to take somebody to guard one-on-one, I’d likelier take Ben Simmons. But since basketball is a 5-on-5 game, it’s a more nuanced conversation than that.