The Sixers’ All-Star now has another honor under his belt.
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons was officially named to the 2019-20 first team All-Defense on Tuesday. He averaged 2.1 steals per game this season, which led the NBA. He also finished fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
This was expected, as Simmons took on the mantle of Philadelphia’s top defender this season. He spent more time on All-Stars than anyone else in basketball, showcasing unmatched versatility at 6-foot-10. He’s one of the few players who can truly defend all five positions.
Simmons is a stalwart on the ball. He can shadow smaller guards, or use his strength to go blow-for-blow with the likes of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. He excels at using his hands to disrupt ball-handlers without fouling. In the post, he’s a brick wall.
He joins Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Marcus Smart on the first team.
Simmons, who still cannot (or will not) shoot 3s, is the victim of endless criticism inside and outside Philadelphia. People question his long-term fit next to Joel Embiid, and he’s often subject to speculative trade conversations despite no indication that the Sixers would even consider a Simmons trade.
He is flawed and oftentimes frustrating, but at the end of the day, there aren’t 25 NBA players I would take over Simmons. A big reason for that is his defense. He is the answer to All-NBA scorers, and he’s no slouch off the ball either. Add that to his tremendous offensive production, and it’s impossible to deny just how special Simmons is.
At 24 years old, Simmons still has a lot of room to grow. Even more improvement on defense is not out of the question. He should become a mainstay in the All-Defense discussion, and sooner than later, he will probably put together a run for Defensive Player of the Year. That’s not the kind of player you flippantly trade because of a limited shot profile.