Ben Simmons claims Kawhi Leonard motivated him to become a better defender
Leonard dominated Simmons and basically any Sixers defender which tried to guard him in the 2019 playoffs. That seven-game series which the Sixers lost on a Leonard buzzer beater still resonates with Simmons, via Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire:
Leonard averaged 34.7 points on 53% shooting in those seven games against the Sixers and it was how he got those baskets that really upset the Sixers. It was almost too easy for him the entire series and Ben Simmons used that as motivation to become a better defender.
“Definitely,” said Simmons at practice ahead of Tuesday’s matchup with Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers. “It set the tone for me. That was the last time I played him. I just tried to carry that energy and consistency to now.”
Simmons may not have a jump shot yet, but there’s no denying he’s an All-NBA defender. The former Rookie of the Year can basically guard positions one through four, which makes it easier for the Sixers to play defense since they can essentially switch everything in the pick-and-roll.
After defeating the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, the Sixers are now 33-21 on the season. They are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Simmons is averaging 16.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 8.3 assists on the season in 52 games.