Sixers guard Ben Simmons believes he is the best defender in the NBA

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Ky Carlin
·3 min read
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Philadelphia 76ers star point guard Ben Simmons is one of the more versatile stars in the NBA. He is critically important to what Philadelphia wants to run on the offensive end of the floor, and he regularly takes on the opposing team’s best player every night as his defensive assignment.

On Thursday, his challenge was Portland Trail Blazers star, Damian Lillard. His work against Lillard was terrific: He held Lillard to 3-for-9 shooting when he defended him, per NBA Stats. His work against Lillard was so good coach Doc Rivers could not move him off Lillard to guard Carmelo Anthony, who was a difference-maker in the fourth.

“I was just stepping up my intensity and being more physical,” Simmons explained. “When you’re guarding a smaller guy, and I’m 6-foot-11, whatever, I’m typically gonna get more foul calls on a smaller guard. I’m happy they let us play a little bit more. I was just trying to be physical down the stretch and guard my guy. Trying to make plays.”

It was his defense against a legitimate superstar, Lillard, that is going to get the attention despite the loss. The Blazers’ franchise player had 19 points in the first quarter, but he was held to 11 the rest of the way. That is mostly due to Simmons’ efforts against him, and he feels that he is the best in the NBA on the defensive end.

“I love the fact that my teammates can look at me and tell me you gotta go out lock this guy up,” said Simmons. “There’s nights guys go off; it’s gonna happen, but most of the time, I feel like I’m doing a good job and making the right plays. I feel like I’m the best defender in the NBA.”

Simmons’ defense against some of the brightest stars in the game has been stellar, and, at times, it is the difference in a game for Philadelphia. The latest example was his defense against Brooklyn Nets star James Harden in a win on Feb. 6. His defense helped key a big run to end the third and lead to the eventual win.

He has defended offensive threats Gordon Hayward, Russell Westbrook, Pascal Siakam and Jerami Grant, and he has them to well below their averages. Against Grant, for example, he stopped him from getting 20 points in a win over the Detroit Pistons earlier in the season. Grant had entered that game with 14 straight games of scoring 20-plus points.

“I’d say I take pride in guarding the best player on the floor every night,” Simmons continued. “It’s not a one-off thing. If you watch me, I’m typically guarding the best player, and typically, the best players are guards or point guard or whatever it is and I love that.”

Simmons is aiming for Defensive Player of the Year honors this season after coming up short in 2020. He made an All-Defensive First Team, but it’s clear he is aiming much higher. He is certainly making a case here early in the season.

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!

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