While much of the coverage surrounding the Sixers is doom-and-gloom these days, it’s important to remember that there are two shiny nuggets of hope underneath all the muck of organizational dysfunction. One of those nuggets is Ben Simmons, who just finished fourth in the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year voting, behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, and Rudy Gobert.
Ben Simmons finished fourth in DPOY voting, with one first place vote. Full results, with Giannis taking home the award: pic.twitter.com/nRvfZ457XH— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) August 25, 2020
Thanks to a back injury in the spring, Simmons appeared in just 57 of the Sixers’ 73 regular season games this year. He led the league on a per-game basis in steals (2.1), and defensive loose balls recovered (1.0), and was third in deflections (3.9). Ben’s versatility was second-to-none among NBA players, as he was capable of shutting down opponents of nearly every shape and size. Prior to the Bubble restart, Simmons had spent the highest percentage of time guarding All-NBA and All-Star players, per BBall-Index.
Percentage of time matched up defensively spent guarding All-NBA players:— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) June 4, 2020
Ben Simmons: 15.9%
Jrue Holiday: 15.2%
Patrick Beverley: 12.7%
Bam Adebayo: 8.7%
Marcus Smart: 8.6%
Rudy Gobert: 7.8%
Anthony Davis: 7.0%
Jonathan Isaac: 6.5%
Brook Lopez: 6.3%
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 5.2% https://t.co/tCDfXmDdrJ
This voting marks the second consecutive year that a Sixer has finished top-4 in DPOY voting; Joel Embiid also finished fourth in 2019. With two foundational pieces capable of being elite difference makers on the defensive end, whoever becomes Philadelphia’s next head coach should have constructing a shutdown defense as a high priority.
Congratulations to Ben on receiving some much-deserved recognition. You can’t help wondering what might have been different if he had been available to defend Jayson Tatum the last 10 days.
All stats courtesy of stats.nba.com, unless otherwise noted.