Nothing about the NBA restarting its season in the Orlando bubble is normal. With eight seeding games set to take place between just 22 of the league’s 30 teams to conclude the regular season, concerned parties wondered whether those contests would impact awards like the MVP race, Rookie of the Year, etc. While we did learn yesterday that stats accumulated during the Orlando seeding games will count towards seasonal concerns like the scoring title, news leaked that the NBA’s annual awards will be solely based upon games through March 11, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania:
The NBA’s annual performance awards (MVP, Rookie of Year, Sixth Man, Defensive Player, Coach of Year, etc.) will be based upon regular season through March 11, when the season suspended, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 17, 2020
Shams revealed the statement from the league in the subsequent tweet below, basically saying it wouldn’t be fair to the teams not playing in the bubble if those games counted towards awards voting:
Sources: NBA has informed teams: "The decision to exclude seeding games from awards voting ensures a fair process in which players and coaches from all 30 teams will have the same opportunity to be honored..." League will soon announce voting process and plan to announce winners. https://t.co/lTyO11LtFN— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 17, 2020
Makes sense. So while this criteria will eliminate all of Matisse Thybulle’s vlog work from his Rookie of the Year candidacy, one Sixer who seems likely to be awarded for his regular season efforts is Ben Simmons as a member of the 1st Team All-Defense. We’re not going to go into an exhaustive breakdown of Ben’s defensive prowess this season here, but let’s take a quick look at some of the numbers showing he deserves to be listed among the top stoppers in the association.
Beyond the numbers, the value Simmons brings in his ability to guard across four (and sometimes even five) positions is immense. Plus, Ben was ready, able, and willing to take on the toughest assignment. Per Krishna Narsu of The BBall Index and former Liberty Ballers editor Andrew Patton, Simmons spent the fifth-most time of any player in the league guarding the opposition’s top offensive option. Furthermore, he spent 24 percent of his time guarding All-Stars.
Simmons has also spent 24% of his time on defense this year guarding all-stars which is a massive jump up from the last 2 years (11.1% in 17-18 and 12.3% last year). In general, he's seemed to be guarding much tougher assignments this year.— Krishna Narsu (@knarsu3) May 28, 2020
However you slice the data, it adds up to Ben Simmons being honored for his defensive work when awards are announced. Now, Sixers fans can look forward to seeing a healthy Simmons continue to shut down the opposition when the team finally retakes the court next week.