NBA awards: Why Ben Simmons beats Rudy Gobert for DPOY

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Kendrick Perkins' Simmons over Gobert argument is spot-on originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The NBA's MVP race was a complete jumble all year long, with no less than six front runners across the 72-game season.

As for Defensive Player of the Year? There are basically two options: you're either on Team Ben Simmons, or you're on Team Rudy Gobert

Both players have strong cases, but on ESPN's The Jump this week former NBA vet Kendrick Perkins made basically an iron-clad case for Simmons' candidacy, one that I think sums up the Sixers star's argument perfectly.

Here's why Perkins has Simmons as his DPOY:

"I'm not knocking [Gobert]. He's great at what he brings to the table. I get that. But he's not more valuable on the defensive end, like Ben Simmons. I watched Ben Simmons this season take a tremendous sacrifice on the offensive end and let Joel Embiid do his thing, and you know what he said? 'I'm going to focus on defense.' And when you talk about one of the best defensive teams in the league, it's the Philadelphia 76ers, and it's led by this man Ben Simmons.

"He gets into you, he's able to switch one through five, he's an underrated shot blocker, he gets deflections, he shoots the passing lane, he gets steals. And most importantly I watched him in a game against the Dallas Mavericks, where he played against Luka, and I've never seen a guy guard Luka the way that Ben Simmons did. He picked him up full-court; Luka could not get his shot off because of [Simmons'] size, athleticism, and strength; he couldn't body him; he couldn't get to the basket. Luka struggled. 

"It's time to start showing the guard and forward some praise, because over the years the big man has been dominating and getting this award, and I think Ben Simmons is deserving of it."

I fully agree with Perkins here, even if his final point is a little shaky.

A lot of Rudy Gobert supporters like to point to on/off defensive splits, and Gobert's impact on the Jazz's defense is obvious. But that's sort of the crux of the Simmons/Gobert argument: is value conveyed through making up for team-wide deficiencies, or is value conveyed through contributing extra to the team?

Because, if you just look at what Gobert and Simmons bring individually, Simmons is simply more valuable on defense. He brings more to the table in terms of guarding any player on the floor successfully, which would seem to me to be the top evaluation of defensive value. Can he do one thing at an elite level (in Gobert's case, protect the paint)... or five things?

Now, Perkins' point about the award being dominated by centers isn't necessarily true. Over the last 20 years, sure, a center has won 14 of those DPOY awards. But in the last six years, the DPOY award has been divvied up equally between centers, power forwards, and small forwards. He might be right if he's arguing that guards should be considered for DPOY more often - a guard hasn't won the award since Gary Payton in 1995-96 - but the league is showing more diversity in its selections in recent years, which is a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, I have a feeling Gobert will win the award for a third time in four years because his counting statistics are more impressive than Simmons', and his natural size lends itself to being a force in the paint. But Simmons does more defensively on the floor than Gobert does, and hopefully voters one day acknowledge Simmons for all his hard work.