Ben Simmons on DPOY Race vs. Rudy Gobert: I Scored 42 on Him and I'm Not a Scorer

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 13, 2021

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons did some lobbying on his own behalf in the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year race during an appearance Tuesday on ESPN's The Jump.

Speaking with Rachel Nichols, Simmons said Gobert is "great down there in the paint, but he's not guarding everybody."

"He guarded me in Utah," the three-time All-Star said. "And I had 42. And apparently, I'm not a scorer, so it is what it is."

Simmons did in fact drop 42 points on the Jazz on Feb. 15. It's also worth noting, though, that he scored 12 of his points from the free-throw line. The Sixers also allowed 134 points in their defeat. According to NBA.com, Simmons finished with a 127.4 defensive rating compared to 114.7 for Gobert.

The DPOY contest is likely to be tight. Gobert leads the NBA in defensive win shares (3.8), with Simmons in third (2.7), per Basketball Reference. Gobert also sits first in ESPN.com's defensive real plus-minus (plus-6.07), while Simmons is all the way back in 224th (plus-0.01).

The trouble with leaning heavily on raw data to draw any conclusions is that they don't necessarily convey a player's true impact on the defensive end of the floor. Measuring what is and isn't good defense isn't as straightforward as watching a player sink or miss a jumper and recording that in the box score.

Simmons can justifiably argue he's far more versatile than Gobert while playing at an elite level. The 7'1" Gobert isn't just a rim protector, but he can't go 1 through 4 against opponents like Simmons can. Because of that, voting for the 6'11" forward for the award would be understandable.

For now, Gobert is getting the nod in the eyes of oddsmakers. He's the DPOY favorite on FanDuel at -280, with Simmons following closely behind at +240.

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