NBASan Antonio Spurs

Bill Simmons And Ryen Russillo Disagree On Victor Wembanyama Winning DPOY

Victor Wembanyama will make his debut for the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Does Victor Wembanyama deserve to be the Defensive Player of the Year? Well, Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo do not see eye to eye on the matter.

On the Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons said Wembanyama shouldn’t be DPOY, but Russillo disagreed, citing individual defensive impact, not team defensive success, as the measuring stick.

Bill Simmons: Should Wemby be the Defensive Player of the Year? It’s like, no, his team sucks. We’re not voting for Wemby Defensive Player of the Year.

Ryen Russillo: Some of us aren’t. Some of us aren’t, apparently. You think Defensive Player of the Year matter?

Bill Simmons: Their defense, the Spurs defense, sucks. They can’t have the Defensive Player of the Year. They’re like a bottom-seven defense.

Ryen Russillo: I just think it’s important that there is a line for every single person that’s like, no, it’s only about winning. It’s like, yeah, but there could be a statistical that would make you go, okay, I can’t deny this anymore.

Bill Simmons: OK, right now they are 23rd in Net Rating defense. How can you have the Defensive Player of the Year and be 23rd in defense, though?

Ryen Russillo: Because you’ve watched him! And he impacts the game defensively more than any player in the league right now.

Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo on why Victor Wembanyama should or should not win DPOY

Both guys made their points convincingly. However, the league has historically given the DPOY award to somebody whose team is doing well and winning. The only exception during the past 20 years was Marcus Camby in 2007. Camby’s Nuggets was ranked 11th in Defensive Rating that year, but the lanky center still won the Defensive Player of the Year. 

That year, the 1996 No. 2 overall pick averaged a league-leading 3.3 blocks on top of 11.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals. This year, Wembanyama is swatting 3.5 shots a night, plus 10.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Over the last 15 games, the French phenom averaged 4.5 blocks, 1.6 steals, and 10.6 rebounds. If there is a case for the seven-foot-five rookie to win DPOY, it’s this one.

Should Wembanyama win the DPOY despite the San Antonio Spurs’ team defense or lack thereof? After all, he already conceded this year’s race to countryman Rudy Gobert. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything.