Another season and we have beef between two of the best players in the league. Ben Simmons has stated, as clearly as possible, that he feels Rudy Gobert is an overrated player and defender. More specifically, Simmons believes he is the Defensive Player of the Year this season.
While Simmons has a case, Gobert should not be overlooked. Gobert already won 2 Defensive Player of the Year Awards in his career, and many believe he deserves his third. Since Gobert is no stranger to criticism, hint Shaq, is this another case of senseless hate?
Here is which player is the Defensive Player of the Year this season.
Ben Simmons: 14.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Rudy Gobert: 14.4 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.8 BPG
In terms of individual stats, it is clear to see how both players impact the game. Simmons can defend multiple positions and since he plays point guard, he averages fewer rebounds and more assists than Rudy Gobert. Simmons is tied for 7th in SPG, and among guards, ranks 13th in blocks.
Rudy Gobert, as a center, ranks 2nd in BPG behind Myles Turner (3.5 BPG). Among centers, he ranks 43rd in steals. The Frenchman is putting up solid numbers for one of the best centers in the NBA, and as a defensive specialist, he has to take the advantage over Ben Simmons.
Advantage: Rudy Gobert
Team Record And Team Defensive Rating
The Philadelphia 76ers, before the Brooklyn Nets traded for former MVP James Harden, had the best record in the Eastern Conference. Right now, the Sixers are tied with Brooklyn for the #1 seed. The 76ers rank 7th in opponents points allowed, 5th in field goals allowed, and 2nd in defensive rating.
The Utah Jazz have the best record in the NBA (41-14), mainly thanks to the duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Utah ranks 4th in points allowed, 1st in 3-points allowed, and 4th in defensive rating. Gobert is the stalwart for the Jazz and he deserves a ton of credit for leading them this season.
But Ben Simmons has a greater impact. A team defensive rating that ranks 2nd in the league is very impressive and the fact that teams can get many field goal attempts is thanks to the versatility of Ben Simmons.
Advantage: Ben Simmons
In terms of impact, both players are clearly the frontrunners as the best defensive players in the league. As they play different positions and do different things on the court, their impact is different.
Ben Simmons is 6'11" and weighs 240 lbs and plays the point guard position thanks to his passing ability and court vision. But he can defend multiple positions, up to 4 at a superstar level. Simmons, other than Giannis Antetokounmpo, is the most versatile defender in the world.
Gobert, the 7'1" center, weighs in at 258 lbs and controls the center position. Gobert is limited to what he can do because of his immense size, so he is the shot-blocking phenom in the paint. Gobert blocks 2.8 shots per game and alters many more. His size and awareness of defending the rim and controlling rebounds is better than anyone in the league.
In the end, Simmons's versatility makes him a more valuable defensive player even if Gobert is so dominant down low. There are more great offensive players in the wing than there are in the paint, meaning Simmons has a greater value.
Advantage: Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is the front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year. He can defend 4 positions at a superstar level, and can even handle centers on some possessions. Simmons can block shots, rebound, and play on-ball defense better than any other perimeter player right now.
Even when he has the responsibility for handling the ball and being the primary playmaker, he is dominating defensively. Gobert has been sensational as usual, but Simmons has taken the biggest step up on the defensive end this season.
2021 Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Simmons