Ben Simmons staked his claim as one of the best defenders in the NBA with a second-place finish in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Simmons was comfortably beaten by Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert who is now a three-time DPOY winner having won the award in the 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 season.
Gobert now joins Dwight Howard, Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace to win the award three times, with Mutombo and Wallace having won the award four times.
Gobert received 84 first-place votes out of a possible 100 while Simmons received 15 to beat third-place Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.
The Philadelphia 76er’s had a dominant season led by Simmons defensive prowess which helped them finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference and secure the first seed with a 49-23 record.
Simmons averaged 1.6 steals and 0.6 blocks and 5.6 defensive rebounds per game, but it was his on-ball defence and ability to defender all five positions on the floor which made him such an impactful defender this season.
Simmons was not afraid during the season to vocalise his thoughts on the DPOY race, throwing shade at Gobert in February and calling himself the best defender in the league.
“I take pride in guarding the best player on the floor every night,” Simmons said.
“It’s not a one-off thing. If you watch me [play], I’m typically guarding the best player. And typically the best players are guards, or shooting guards, whatever it is. And I love that. I love the fact that my teammates look at me and tell me ‘you’ve got to go out and lock this guy up.
“There’s nights that guys go off, it’s going to happen. But most of the time I feel like I’m doing a good job and making the right plays. I feel like I’m the best defender in the NBA.”
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Simmons came into the NBA with high praises due to his elite ball handling, passing and vision at 6’10, which saw the 76er’s take him with the number one pick in 2016.
After an injury-interrupted first season which saw Simmons not taking the floor all year, the Aussie hit the ground running in 2017 taking home Rookie of the Year honours.
Since then Simmons has been a three-time All-Star and last season was award All-NBA Third Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team where he led the league in steals.
Simmons and the 76ers will be hoping to cap off this season with their first championship since 1983, currently still in the playoffs where they are in the Eastern Conference Semis against the Atlanta Hawks.
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