Simmons, Embiid, Thybulle Named to NBA All-Defensive Teams

The NBA announced today that Ben Simmons was named to the All-Defensive First Team, while teammates Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle earned All-Defensive Second Team honors. It’s the second time the 76ers have had three players named to All-Defensive teams in the same season after 1982-83 when Hall of Famers Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones and Moses Malone all did so. 

Simmons has earned his second straight First Team honor, becoming the first 76er to do so since Hall of Famer Maurice Cheeks made four consecutive All-Defensive First Teams from 1982-86. Embiid, who was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2017-18 and 2018-19 joins Hall of Famers Bobby Jones and Cheeks as the only 76ers to earn such honors at least three times with the franchise. Thybulle’s selection is the first of his career, while he’s the 26th player ever to make an All-Defensive team within their first two NBA seasons. 

The trio helped lead Philadelphia to the best record in the Eastern Conference at 49-23 (.681), clinching the top seed in the East for the first time since 2000-01, while boasting the conference’s best defensive rating. The 76ers defeated the Washington Wizards, 4-1, in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs and currently hold a 2-1 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. 

Simmons, the former No. 1 overall pick, appeared in 58 games (all starts) during his fourth NBA season, averaging 1.6 steals (seventh in the NBA) and 3.5 deflections per game (fourth in the league) while adding in 202 total deflections (third in the NBA) and 93 total steals, which ranked 12th in the league. He was one of eight players this season to total at least 90 steals and 30 blocks. This marks the third straight season in which Simmons topped 90 swipes and 30 rejections.  

Named an NBA All-Star for the third time in his four seasons, Simmons had six games in which he totaled at least two steals and two blocks. This includes a five-steal game against New Orleans on April 9, and he now has eight such games in his career.  

The Australian Simmons held opposing players to .409 shooting from the field, that mark was the sixth-best in the NBA among players with at least 50 appearances. Through his first four NBA seasons, Simmons has seen action in 275 games (all starts), while tallying 464 steals and 199 blocks. Since his rookie season (2017-18), he and Brooklyn’s James Harden are the only players to top 460 steals and 190 blocks.  

In his fifth season, Embiid appeared in 51 games (all starts), averaging a career-high 1.0 steals along with 1.4 blocks per game this year. He was one of just seven players to average such numbers. In all, Embiid totaled a career-best 50 steals, 69 rejections and hauled in 426 defensive rebounds this season, and was one of three players to top 50 steals, 65 blocks and grab at least 420 defensive rebounds.  

On Jan. 12 against Miami, the native Cameroonian swiped a career-high five steals. He also posted at least three steals in four games this season and totaled at least four blocks twice this year.  

For his career, Embiid, a four-time NBA All-Star, has come up with 208 steals and 443 blocks in 260 games. Since his first game in 2016-17, Embiid is one of nine players to do so over that span. He is the only player to do so in less than 8,000 minutes played.  

Thybulle is the 13th 76er ever named to an All-Defensive team. In his second season, he appeared in 65 games (eight starts), averaging career highs of 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Those marks ranked sixth and 21st in the league, respectively.  

All told, Thybulle totaled 105 steals and 71 blocks this season, joining selection Robert Covington as the only players to top 100 steals and 70 blocks. Thybulle, however, is the first player in NBA history to do so while playing less than 1,300 total minutes.  

This season, Thybulle held opponents he guarded to .372 shooting from the field, which led the 76ers and was the best in the league among players with at least 50 games played. Among those same players, Thybulle had the best percentage point difference of -7.7.  

For his career, Thybulle has come up with 199 steals and 118 blocks in 130 games, making him the only player since steals and blocks were first tracked in 1973-74 to do so in the first two seasons of their career while playing under 2,600 minutes.  

During his sophomore campaign, Thybulle set a career high with eight games in which he posted at least three blocks. He also set a new career best with 18 games of at least three steals, which was tied for the second-most in the NBA. He collected a season and career-high-tying five swipes on two occasions.  

The voting results for the 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive Team are below.  The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP. Complete ballots for each voter will be posted at after the announcement of all end-of-season awards. 


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