Ben Simmons On DPOY Race: ‘I Had 42’ Points On Gobert

Apr 13, 2021, 5:28 PM | Updated: 5:51 pm
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty...
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As the NBA regular season winds down the race for the Defensive Player of the Year Award largely believed to be a battle between Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is heating up.

On the latest episode of The Jump on ESPN, Simmons pointed to performance against Gobert and the Jazz as the reason he believes he deserves the Defensive Player of the Year nod.

“He guarded me in Utah,” Simmons told The Jump’s Rachel Nichols, “and I had 42.”

Simmons scored 42 points against Utah in a 134-123 victory by the Jazz in mid-February. The 76ers All-Star shot 15-26 from the floor while handing out 12 assists. However, according to the NBA’s player tracking data, only nine of Simmons points came against Gobert on 3-7 shooting.

“There’s a lot of respect for Rudy, I know what he’s capable of, he’s great down there in the paint,” Simmons said. “But he’s not guarding everybody.”

In NBA.com‘s latest rankings, Gobert edges Simmons for the top spot in what would be the Jazz center’s third DPOY Award. Gobert won the award in 2018 and 2019.

In addition to his two DPOY awards, Gobert has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team for the last four seasons. Simmons was named to the All-Defensive first team last season for the first time in his career.

While Simmons may rely on his versatility on the floor, the most prominent metrics all point to Gobert as the league’s top defender. Gobert leads the NBA in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus and FiveThirtyEight’s Defensive RAPTOR.

While the 76ers own the league’s second-best defensive rating, one spot ahead of the Jazz, a closer look at the numbers doesn’t support Simmons’ case for DPOY.

With Simmons on the floor, the 76ers have a defensive rating of 106.5 versus a 104.0 rating when he plays. That means the 76ers are 2.6 points worse per 100 possessions on defense when Simmons is in the game rather than sitting on the sidelines.

The Jazz meanwhile see a significant boost when Gobert is on the floor. According to the league’s stats, the Jazz have a defensive rating of 102.3 when Gobert is on the floor which drops to 111.6 when he’s sidelined, a difference of 9.3 points per 100 possessions.

Though Simmons may be more vocal about his candidacy for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, it doesn’t appear that the numbers are on his side.

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