Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons won’t win Defensive Player of the Year

Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The back injury to the Philadelphia 76ers’ franchise point guard may cost him more than just the amount of games he will play this season.

To say that the injury to Ben Simmons is devastating would be an understatement. Despite his unwillingness to shoot jump shots, he was still clearly the main facilitator of the Philadelphia 76ers‘ offense and more importantly, the spearhead of the team’s defense. He was having such a fantastic season on defense, an argument could have been made that he should have been the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY). Sadly, that argument can’t be made anymore.

This year, Simmons had been proving to be one of the most active and versatile defenders. He’s already surpassed Joel Embiid as the 76ers best defender. Simmons’ one of the few players in the NBA that can defend all five positions. On top of that, the 6-foot-10 point guard is in the top-20 in several defensive categories in the NBA.

He’s first in steals with 2.1 per game. He’s tied for third in steal percentage at 2.9 percent. He’s tied for 13th in Defensive Wins Shares with 3.1 this season. He’s also tied for seventh in Defensive Box Plus/Minus at plus-2.5. While he’s not in the top-20 for either Blocks or Defensive Rating per 100 possession, there’s no doubt he’s an elite defender in the NBA.

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Despite the impressive defensive stats, he has some stiff competition. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning MVP of the league, but he’s making a very strong case to repeat as MVP and to win his first DPOY award as well. Then there’s reigning DPOY Rudy Gobert who’s still playing at an elite defensive level.

Other players that could make a case for DPOY are Robert Covington, Kris Dunn, Andre Drummond, Marcus Smart, P.J. Tucker, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverley, and even Brook Lopez. With so many worthy players, Simmons needed every advantage he could get to win the award.

This injury that Simmons is recovering from will probably cost him the DPOY award. The Sixers only have 18 games left this season and Simmons has already missed seven games after being diagnosed with his back injury. When there are this many qualified players for the award, the number of games played is important and Simmons could lose a good chunk of the season due to this nerve impingement injury in his lower back.

He has already missed 10 games this season and while the Sixers hope to have him back for the playoffs, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive timetable. Per Shelburne, the good news is that he’ll be re-evaluated within this week, but there’s no guarantee he’s be healed up or even close to being able to play at that point.

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Simmons’ ability to play many more games this season seems in doubt and even if he does, there’s no guarantee he can play at the same level he was. This is a major blow to the Philadelphia 76ers title hopes as well as the point guard’s chances of winning the DPOY award.