Draymond Green explains why he has respect for Simmons' defense


Draymond Green isn’t known for being diplomatic. 

The Warriors forward tends to speak his mind. And, asked on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Dubs Talk podcast with Grant Liffmann and Kendra Andrews who would be on his NBA All-Defensive Team and which players he respects around the league defensively, the Sixers’ Ben Simmons was the only player he named.

“I think there are several guys that are capable of making that team,” Green said. “I don’t watch enough of everyone else’s games consistently to say oh man, this guy is on that team, or that guy. I think there are some guys who, you go around the league and I definitely respect them as defenders. I think a name I’ve been seeing a lot is Ben Simmons. I think Ben is a very good defender. Like myself, he’s very versatile. He can guard a big man, he can guard a point guard. Ben, he usually guards wings and point guards, but he’s a very versatile defender. But I can go all around the league and find good defenders, I just don’t think any of them are as good as me.”

The 31-year-old Green was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season and has been selected to five All-Defensive Teams. He’s averaged a career-high 8.5 assists per game this year for the 22-21 Warriors, who play the Sixers Tuesday night at Chase Center.

He’s absolutely correct that Simmons is a highly skilled, versatile defender. Simmons emphasized that point after a Sixers shootaround last week in detailing why he thinks he should win Defensive Player of the Year this season.

“I think I am,” he said. “No disrespect to (Jazz center Rudy Gobert) at all — he’s a great shot blocker and defender — but he’s not guarding one through five. He’s guarding fives and probably big fours. He’s a great defender, but I don’t think he’s guarding one through five. You can’t tell him to go guard Kawhi (Leonard) or guard Paul (George) or guard a point guard. He’s not doing that on a daily basis.”

Simmons, who was part of the All-Defensive First Team last season, has averaged 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks and 3.8 deflections per game, which is tied for second in the NBA. He’s defended a star-studded collection of players very well, among them De’Aaron Fox, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic. 

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard last month called Simmons the “best defensive player in the league right now.” While he’s biased as Simmons’ teammate, Howard is certainly not the only player around the NBA who sees Simmons as among the league’s defensive elite. 

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