Ben Simmons doubles down on his claim that he deserves to win Defensive Player of the Year this season ahead of Rudy Gobert.
Ben Simmons has really taken a leap this year for the Philadelphia 76ers. The player has dramatically increased his aggression on the offensive end, causing him to finally bloom offensively. But what has stood out more this season, is the 24-year-old’s lockdown defense.
Simmons has always had to take the opposition’s best player. And more often than not, whether it’s on the perimeter or the inside, the player almost effortlessly locks them down.
Even some of the NBA’s greatest players have finally started to say that Ben Simmons is the best defender in the league right now. And so, naturally, the player himself has claimed it sparingly as well.
In a recent interview though, the 76ers star was put in a bit of a spot, with regards to how many points Kyrie Irving dropped on him. And judging by his response, it seems Ben Simmons had been waiting for that question.
“Yeah, but we won”: Ben Simmons on Kyrie Irving’s night against the 76ers to protect his bid for DPOY
As previously mentioned, Ben Simmons has claimed that he deserves DPOY on more than a few occasions this season. However, the stay hasn’t always made such massive claims so openly before.
With that in mind, a reporter recently asked him what prompted this change in him. The 76ers star responded comprehensively with the following:
“It’s the same with people all around me. I tell them all the time, “Yo! I’m Defensive Player of the Year.” I’m not even questioning it right now. I know I am. That’s a fact. And numbers, certain stats, are cool with certain players. But, at the end of the day, you know.”
Simmons continued on the matter.
“Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving — most people in the basketball world would say Kyrie is a better player. I think they’re flatly wrong. … I would rather have Ben Simmons than Kyrie Irving.” — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/sw8fjnGRSs
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) April 16, 2021
“The example would be last night. I was supposed to guard [Kevin Durant]. We match up well size-wise. KD’s out. The next person I’m guarding is Kyrie [Irving]. Like, who’s doing that?”
“It’s not many players who are doing that. And to be doing it at a high level like that? I don’t think there’s anybody else really doing that. I mean, Kawhi [Leonard] when he was really playing defense like that, of course. But, it’s not too many guys.”
As a follow-up, Big Ben was asked, “Didn’t Kyrie have, like, 37 last night though?”.
As you would expect, this seemed to get to Ben Simmons’s just a tad bit. Fortunately for him though, he had a very clever answer planned.
“Yeah, but we won. His plus/minus was negative, too.”
Indeed, Kyrie Irving was an abysmal -13 during the game. Many have criticized the Philadelphia 76ers for barely squeezing out the win that game, even questioning Ben Simmons’s claim for DPOY. The reason for this is, not only did Irving have 37, but also because the other 2 of the big three were not only missing, but the team also came into the game without rest.
However, you can only beat what is in front of you at the end of the day. And given how well Simmons has otherwise defended this season, he could just be lifting the DPOY award by the end of the season.