It’s official: Ben Simmons has made the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team for 2019-20. Simmons is the only member of the Philadelphia 76ers to make a team, but a couple of others did receive votes, with Joel Embiid picking up 11 total votes (including one First Team selection) and Matisse Thybulle earning one Second Team vote.
2019-2020 NBA All-Defensive teams:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 8, 2020
First team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, Marcus Smart, Ben Simmons
Second team: Bam Adebayo, Patrick Beverley, Eric Bledsoe, Kawhi Leonard, Brook Lopez
Voters can make some puzzling picks when it comes to All-Defensive teams (and there were some bad votes as always), but the final choices for this year’s team are absolutely fair.
When it comes to Ben Simmons, there’s no doubt he deserved to make it. He was brilliant on defense this year. While his intensity wavered slightly at times later in the season (and he wasn’t himself in the bubble), his increased effort and engagement was key to him taking a step forward at this end of the floor to earn his elite status. He grabbed 8 rebounds a night and led the NBA with 2.1 steals per game, while ranking 3rd in deflections at 3.9. With his elevated intensity and fantastic blend of size, speed and length, he was more disruptive than ever off the ball.
The video below shows off some of his best steals, featuring a bunch of his late-game heroics as he helped to close out multiple games with his defensive playmaking talent.
It seems like an appropriate time to share this video again now that Ben Simmons has been named to the All-Defensive First Team.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) September 8, 2020
Here are some of his best steals of the season (he led the NBA with 2.1 per game) pic.twitter.com/dAJj8m6kVF
Simmons’ versatility is what makes him truly stand out, though. He can effectively switch across every position, whether he’s hounding guards at the point of attack or banging with a center in the post. He also routinely guards the biggest threat an opponent has to offer. He spent more time guarding All-NBA and All-Star level players than anyone else this season (according to BBall Index), and did so at a high level.
Simmons built a strong case to make the All-Defensive First Team throughout the season, and well and truly deserved the honor.