After years of forwards and centers winning this award, NBA voters finally gave the guards some love. Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has won the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year award. Smart is the first guard to win the prestigious award since Gary Payton since the 1996 season. Marcus Smart joins Kevin Garnett (2008 Defensive Player of the Year) as the only Celtics players to win the award.
Smart has been tremendous on the defensive end for the Celtics, making his prescence known everytime he steps out on the court. Boston was the best defensive team in the league this year, with Smart leading the way on the defensive end.
Without Smart on the court this season, the Celtics had a defensive rating of 111.2, compared to the 107.2 rating he had when he was on the court. Smart’s defensive numbers go beyond just the stats, as he ranks within the top 10 in the league for deflections and charges. He also ranked within the top 5 for loose balls, showing fans and voters why he deserved to win the award with his hustle and determination.
Smart’s defense will prove to be important for the Celtics going forward as Boston has a tough task in the first round of the 2022 playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets, currently leading the series 1-0. The league’s best regular season defense will look to continue slowing down Nets duo Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant going forward in this series.
Smart beat out the likes of Suns G/F Mikal Bridges and Jazz C Rudy Gobert for the award, with Miami C Bam Adebayo and Memphis F Jaren Jackson Jr. rounding out the top 5.