Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart is making his case to be selected as this year’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
“What other guard is switching 1 through 5 and guarding them?” Smart said. “You’re not seeing it with any other one guard, point guard or for that matter any guards.”
The 28-year-old Smart has been with the Celtics for all eight of his NBA seasons and in both 2019 and 2020 was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Despite those past accolades, Smart is clearly focused on winning the top prize for a defender, a seeming rarity for someone in the backcourt. The last guard to win that prize was Hall of Famer Gary Payton for his efforts in the 1995-96 season.
Besides Smart’s 1.7 steals per game, he’s also averaging 12.1 points, 5.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds for each contest this season.
Smart’s overall contributions are one of the key reasons why the Celtics still remain in the hunt for the top record in the Eastern Conference. With five games left in the regular season, the Celtics are just two games behind the Miami Heat for that top mark.
Those efforts by Smart continue to show that the Celtics’ four-year contract extension, which Smart signed last year, is a wise investment.
Smart will have plenty of other competition for that DPOY award besides his fellow guards. That group includes players like Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
For now, Smart is focused on helping the Celtics win their next contest, a Friday night home matchup against the Indiana Pacers.