Sixers vs. Wizards: Ben Simmons can't guard Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, says one analyst

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TNT analyst says Simmons can't guard Westbrook, Beal because he's too tall originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

I guess being a top-three defender in the NBA isn't worth much to some people.

After the Wizards earned the No. 8 seed and a date with the top-seeded Sixers in the first round with a 142-115 win Thursday over the Pacers, the studio analysts on TNT’s Inside the NBA broke down the upcoming matchup. 

Kenny Smith seemed to think that the Wizards’ All-Star backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal will give the Sixers problems.

“[The Wizards] do have Beal and Westbrook, being smaller guards is actually really good for them,” Smith said. “Ben Simmons, I don’t think, can play on the perimeter with either one of those guys.”

I understand that dismissing the Wizards’ chances off-hand wouldn’t make for great television, but saying the most versatile defensive player on the planet can’t stop Beal or Westbrook ... because he’s too tall? C’mon, Kenny.

I was a decent scorer, but if a guy at 6-11 tried to guard me, I would feel I had the advantage. I don’t care if Dennis Rodman switched out on me, I got him. He’s too big to move his feet on a consistent basis all game. For a play, for a couple of plays, but if he picked me up full court like he’s got to do with Russell Westbrook and Beal, impossible. Those two guys are too crafty, too good, too athletic [for Simmons] to do that.

- Kenny Smith

So to clarify, one of the finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year isn’t a good enough defender to slow down either of the Wizards’ starting guards? That tracks.

Beal did go off for a career-high 60 points on 20-of-35 shooting against the Sixers on Jan. 6, but he was being guarded by Simmons on just two of those shots, and went 1 for 2.

If only there was a parallel universe where we could see Kenny go head-to-head in a game against Simmons. I have a feeling that he would struggle to get him, as he says he could do with Rodman.

Someone should get Smith’s comments to Simmons before Game 1 Sunday. We could see some of those patented “steam out of the nose” emojis in real life from the Sixers’ point guard.

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