But what, dare I ask, could Ben Simmons have done better to beat out Rudy Gobert to win Defensive Player of the Year? Certainly not play better defense, because the Philadelphia 76ers point guard played at such a high level in 2020-21 that he made highlight-reel level performances become as mundane as a Dwight Howard technical foul.
Measuring in at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, Simmons is one of the few players in the NBA who can legitimately cover opposing players one-through-five and remain a viable difference-maker.
Whether tasked with running the show at the top of the key or paired up with Thybulle in a 2-3 zone look – a look that Doc Rivers should probably use a bit more often – Simmons dictates the way opposing teams run their offense regardless of their unique style of play, which isn’t something one can say about many other players league-wide, especially paint-clogging centers. Employing a player like Simmons or Thybulle is the only way to give those players pause and should thus be valued as highly, if not more highly, than an elite rim defender who can be schemed out of plays with the right offensive weapons.