Ben Simmons is one of the most versatile and hard-hitting defenders.
One of Simmons’ greatest strengths is his defensive side. He just hangs out Paul Georges for the highest number of stolen passes (299) since 2017-18.
Simmons led the league in total steals (2.1 spg) in 2019-20 and tied Chris Paul for the most defensive loose balls recovered (59) during this campaign.
He can also cut down boards with the best of them. Among the players in his post, according to Cleaning the Glass, Simmons has never finished below the 90th percentile bouncing his opponent’s missed baskets or his opponents missed free throws.
Plus, he’s never seen his block percentage drop below the 90th percentile. Simmons is also great at getting his hands on the ball on a no-shot attempt. He had the third-highest number of deflections per game in 2019-20 (3.9) and 2020-21 (3.5). This puts him in the same conversation with players like Marcus Intelligent and Jimmy butler.
But it’s not just the counting stats where Simmons ranks well. Based on partial possession tracking data, the folks at BBall-Index.com are measuring defensive versatility to determine which position players keep most often.
By their measure, Simmons’ defensive versatility ranked fifth (minimum: 500 minutes) in the league in 2020-21. He defended opposing leaders (23.6 percent) about as often as he did for forwards (21.7 percent) last season.
With the same qualifications, his defensive versatility finished as the best among all NBA players in 2017-18 and as the second best in 2018-19. For the context, PJ Tucker and André Iguodala are other players who have scored well in recent years.
BBall-Index also measures the difficulty of the match based on how often players defend high-demand opponents. Of the 148 players who logged at least 1,500 minutes in 2019-2020, Simmons finished fifth in measuring the toughest missions. His score was similar to that Jrue Holidays and Dejounte Murray checked in. He went on to rank near the top of the league last season as well.
Its defensive impact is not negligible. He’s finished in the 95th percentile or better in estimated plus-minus in defense over the past two seasons, by dunksandthrees, and in the 85th percentile or better in each of his four professional campaigns.
There are few players better at defense than Simmons, who offers a rare mix of size, strength and speed.
He can keep the opposing team’s best player, regardless of his position, and always make a play – whether it’s a steal, deflection, rebound, or recovered ball .