Simmons takes dig at Gobert in DPOY race: He guarded me when I had 42

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Ben Simmons believes he's the Defensive Player of the Year, and he took a playful jab at fellow candidate and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert to support his case.

"I'm one of those guys who can guard one through five," the Philadelphia 76ers star told ESPN's Rachel Nichols in an interview Tuesday. "Obviously, it's a lot of respect for Rudy. I know what he's capable of. I know he's great down there in the paint but he's not guarding everybody, and that's just what it is. He guarded me in Utah ... and I had 42. And apparently, I'm not a scorer, so, it is what it is.

"But I have a lot of respect for him, and at the same time, I think it's mine this year."

Simmons is referring to a Feb. 15 matchup between the 76ers and the Jazz. With Joel Embiid out for Philadelphia, the 24-year-old finished with 42 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds in 38 minutes, though the Jazz held on to win, 134-123.

However, overriding Gobert's case for Defensive Player of the Year may need more than just one matchup. The French big man is averaging a career-high 2.8 blocks this season, second in the NBA only to Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner.

Gobert is also the most influential defensive presence on the Jazz. When he's on the bench, Utah surrenders a team-worst 111.6 points per 100 possessions, a steep drop from its 102.3 defensive rating with him on the court.

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Simmons takes dig at Gobert in DPOY race: He guarded me when I had 42
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