There’s Only One Takeaway from the Defensive Player of the Year Voting

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Snub City, USA for the Sixers.

Tobias Harris was not named an All-Star. Joel Embiid did not win MVP. And now Ben Simmons is the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.

Here’s how the voting finished:

What’s the takeaway when you look at that list?

To me, it’s the fact that three Sixers are on it. Simmons finished second, and got 15 first place votes. Embiid finished 7th. Even Matisse Thybulle got a vote as a second-year bench player, which adds his name to a distinguished list.

We can sit here and argue about Simmons vs. Gobert forever, but the exercise is mostly feckless. They are completely different players. It’s not even apples and oranges, it’s more like comparing a papaya to a dragonfruit. One is a 6’10” ‘point guard’ who defends one through five and swallows up guys on the perimeter. The other is an elite, seven-foot rim protector who anchors a team that casual East Coast fans and media barely even watch.

The truth is that it’s stupid to even compare the two guys at all, because they play completely different defensive games. And advanced defensive metrics stink, because the nerds just make up some shit like BOXBIPM+/- and shape marginal data into whatever narrative they’d like. Only the eye test really matters when it comes to NBA defending.

And in that case, Sixers fans watched Embiid and Simmons hammer Gobert this year. Ben dropped 42 points in Salt Lake City, without Embiid on the floor, and then Joel scored 40 in March at home. You understand why Philly fans are miffed by the Gobert thing, but whatever. Maybe it’s motivation for these guys in Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks.

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