Ben Simmons picks top-5 defenders, defends James Harden’s defense from haters
Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons picked his top-five defenders in the NBA during a late-night stream of Call of Duty on Wednesday, defending James Harden in the process. The Sixers guard has been making the most of the suspension of the 2019-20 season due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, but couldn’t resist delving into some NBA hoopla while playing his favorite video game.
Transcript via Adam Hermann of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
“Yo, here’s the one thing. I’ve got something to say. Everyone talks on James’ D, but he can play D,” said Simmons. “I don’t think y’all understand how strong that dude is. He’s a strong guy. A lot of people listen to analytics and stuff, it makes no sense. Analytically? You can’t always look at numbers, man.”
The Sixers youngster then chimed in on the big-man debate, putting Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis over two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. If you think there was any bias due to Gobert being the first to test positive for the virus, think again:
“I look at AD and I think he’s a better defender than Gobert, because he can defend guards at times,” Simmons explained his reasoning. “Look, I play ball, I’m looking at guys who can guard 1 through 5, man. … You can’t say you’re one of the best defenders if you’re not guarding every position.”
Simmons teased going with Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard as he rounded out his top five. Then someone suggested putting Giannis Antetokounmpo — who owns the league’s best defensive rating — over Leonard.
The Sixers guard wasn’t having it:
“You’d put Giannis over Kawhi? You’ve never played Kawhi in the playoffs, then.”
Simmons spitballed names like Jimmy Butler, Marcus Smart, and Bam Adebayo before realizing he was missing someone who plays in the same Sixers uniform as him:
“You know what, Joel (Embiid). I’m trippin,'” he said before tossing himself in that top-five for good measure.
So his top-five All-Defensive list is Patrick Beverley, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and himself.
Not shabby at all.