76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are both campaigning for Defensive Player of the Year.
With Embiid also in the MVP race, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers is throwing his support behind Simmons.
Rivers, via ESPN:
Ben is a lock to me. He just – he guards every position. And he makes such a difference. And not just at the rim. It’s everywhere. He literally at times swallows players. And I’ve not seen that.
This is what Rivers does. He overhypes his own players for awards in order to foster connection and enthusiasm. (Saying Simmons “literally” swallows players is the only twist, and it’s a fun one.)
Because of these comments, Simmons could show more trust in Rivers and defend harder. Rivers can still similarly appeal to Embiid by advocating for the center to win Most Valuable Player.
It might be good coaching, but those of us outside the 76ers needn’t accept the public arguments at face value.
Simmons warrants Defensive Player of the Year consideration. But he’s far from a lock. He’s not even the leader.