Boston Celtics shooting guard Marcus Smart has won the Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2021-22 NBA season. The Oklahoma State University alumn created history as he became the first guard to win this award since former Seattle and Miami point guard Gary Payton. The Glove won his DPOY award in the 1995-96 season and also presented Smart with his award as well.
The 28-year-old is also the second Celtic to win the award after former NBA champions and MVP Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket won his award in his first season with Boston in 2008 where the Celts also lifted an NBA championship.
Marcus Smart received 257 points from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. He also received 37 first-place votes. The first runner-up was Phoenix Suns' forward Mikal Bridges who had 202 points with 22 first-place votes. While the second runner-up was Utah Jazz centre and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert with 136 points and 12 first-place votes.
Smart’s remarkable numbers
He started in 71 games for Boston and was seventh in the NBA with (1.68) steals per game and tied for sixth with 119 total steals. Smart also ended 19 games with three or more steals, including two games with a season-high five steals. He was also tied for fourth in the NBA with 75 loose balls recovered and tied for 10th with 206 deflections and 16 charges drawn. The 28-year-old also had a career-high 3.2 defensive rebounds per game for the season.
With Marcus Smart as their defensive leader, Boston Celtics led the league with a defensive rating of 106.2. They also allowed the least amount of points (104.5) and held opponents to the lowest shooting percentage from the field and the three-point line with averages of 43.4 and 33.9 respectively.
While talking to ESPN last month, Marcus Smart made his case for winning the DPOY award this year. He was quoted saying, "I'm not taking anything from the bigs. A vital part of the game is protecting the paint. But, as guards, we do a lot more before [our man] gets to the paint. ... Contesting the 3, contesting pull-ups, making sure he doesn't get to his spots."