Just hilariously ill-timing for the NBA to release its Defensive Player of the Year rankings thus far, and have it look like this:
The NBA has released its leaders for Defensive Player of the Year:
1. Rudy Gobert
2. Ben Simmons
3. Myles Turner
4. Anthony Davis
5. Lu Dort
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) February 16, 2021
This list comes less than 24 hours after the NBA’s runner-up on this list, Ben Simmons, cooked the leader for a career high 42 points. After the game, Simmons said he found it “a bit disrespectful” that the Jazz put Gobert on him. The Sixers guard is oft criticized for his jumpshot or lack thereof and his limited abilities on offense. But last night in Utah, he went downhill at Gobert all night, finished with 19 in the first quarter, 42 for the game, and one assist shy of a triple double.
The timing of this list could not be WORSE. But is there a good time this season to insinuate that Rudy Gobert is a better defender than Ben Simmons?
Ben has seemingly hit a new gear on defense. Often taking on the assignment of the opponents best guard, he has shined all season long. His defense on James Harden last week is one of the many examples. They switched Danny Green off Harden in favor of Simmons, to which the Sixers immediately went on a 12-0 run. Or against Portland last week where Simmons held Damian Lillard without a field goal for most of the 4th quarter.
I think what is most frustrating about Gobert having this lead in DPOY is the general narrative surrounding these players. Simmons is almost docked on his defensive skill because of his notated offensive struggles at times shooting. Critics will point to his lack of jump shot, the one thing you need as a guard. But Gobert, a 7 foot Center, has severely underwhelming post moves and skates by. A guard is ridiculed for not having the most essential trait in a jumper. But the same energy is not shared for center without a post-game.
If this is how the DPOY race is going for Simmons, I can’t wait to see what the MVP race looks like for Joel Embiid.