The NBA announced on Monday that Boston Celtics guard, Marcus Smart, was named the defensive player of the year for the 2021-22 season. He is the seventh guard in NBA history and the first since Gary Payton won the award in 1996.
Smart, who called the award a “popularity contest” earlier in the year, joins an elite company as the list of guards to win the award consists of Sidney Moncrief, Alvin Robertson, Michael Cooper, Michael Jordan, and Payton.
His case for DPOY was a simple one. He finished with a defensive rating of 105.2, good for seventh-best in the league, and he was the best defensive player on the highest rated defense in the entire league. This was still a bit of a shock considering how elite rim protectors have dominated this award since it was created but nonetheless, this award was well deserved for the heart and soul of the Celtics.
The NBA is dominated now by perimeter scorers so it is a nice change of pace to see a perimeter defender win the award.
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