Marcus Smart emerged as the 1st guard in more than 25 years to earn the award for the best defensive player in the NBA The awards were announced on Monday by NBA officials, and he became the 1st guard since 1995-96 when Gary Payton won it.
Marcus Smart assisted the Celtics to the top in NBA defensive ratings and also scoring defense (104.6) while he held rivals to a field goal ratio of 0.434, and a three-point percentage of 0.339, which is a league-low.
Marcus Smart Had Spoken About Guards Deserving More Respect
Smart, 28, ranked 7th in steals at 1.68, tying for the sixth place in the total number of steals at 119.
Marcus Smart also received total points of 257and garnered 37 1st-place votes awarded by a panel consisting of 100 broadcasters and sportswriters. Phoenix Suns’ Mikal Bridges came in second with 22 1st-place votes and 202 points.
A third position was Rudy Gobert, the center at the Utah Jazz, who won in 2018-19, and 2021. He finished with 12 votes for first place and 136 points.
Marcus Smart started all the 71 games that he played in the regular season, and came in 4th for loose balls recoveries (75) and also came in 10th for drawn charges (16) and deflection (106). He even has 3.2 defensive rebounds in every game, a career-high.
The 2020 best defensive player was won by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Players were awarded five points for every 1st-place vote, three for a 2nd-place vote, plus one for every 3rd-place vote.
Only last month, Marcus Smart spoke of guards deserving more respect during voting. The award has always gone to big men since it started in 1982. Only Marcus Smart and Gary Payton are the 2-point guards who have bagged it.
Shooting guards have won it on 5 other occasions, but none after 1988, when Michael Jordan won 1988. The rest have all gone to forwards and centers, including in 2018-19 and 2021 when Gobert won.