'Bulldozing' Simmons a DPOY shot: Mills

Murray WenzelAAP
Bn Simmons (l) is making a strong case for the NBA defender of the year award.
Camera IconBn Simmons (l) is making a strong case for the NBA defender of the year award.

Ben Simmons says he's the best defender in the NBA and Australian counterpart Patty Mills reckons he has a strong case.

Simmons will play in his third NBA All-Stars game on Monday (AEST) with his Philadelphia 76ers team sitting on top of the eastern conference standings while he is among the contenders to win the defensive player of the year honour.

The 25-year-old has locked down opponents of all sizes to shoot up the power rankings this season and sit behind only two-time winner Rudy Gobert as the bookies' favourite.

Centres Gobert, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler and Simmons' teammate Dwight Howard have won eight of the past 12 gongs between them while only five of the last 29 winners have been guards or small forwards.

While identifying as a back-court player, Simmons has defended the likes of Gobert and point guard Damian Lillard with equal success this season and he boasts a league-leading 3.9 deflections and 1.4 loose ball recoveries per game.

Mills, who hopes to play alongside Simmons for the Boomers at July's Olympics, says he's seen something click for the former No.1 draft pick who notched a career-high 42 points against western conference leaders Utah last month.

"It seems as though he's working out how he can be most effective in the NBA," Mills told AAP of Simmons, who will play for Team Lebron on Monday.

"Catering to his skill and athleticism and body type, he's figured out that the better he can play defence and get stops and deflections the more he can run downhill the other way and bulldoze everyone over and dunk with two hands and get fouled."

Simmons has twice declared himself "the best defender in the league" after lockdown jobs on All-Star opponents this season and while Mills' San Antonio are yet to face the 76ers, Australia's most-experienced NBA player has seen enough to vouch for him.

"He's hard to stop and it's the evolution of Benny as a player," Mills said.

"If he's playing that sort of defence, getting stops and running downhill, I've got no question he can be defensive player of the year, no matter what position he's playing."

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