Marcus Smart makes his case for Defensive Player of the Year and fires a shot at Rudy Gobert in the process

Jonathan Sherman
2 Min Read
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Around the end of every NBA regular season, players around the league often start to promote themselves or their teammates for some of the league’s top awards.

One player who is making his case to be named this season’s Defensive Player of the Year is Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

Smart has always been known as a hard-nosed defender. This season, he’s been especially tough, and in a recent conversation with Tim Bontemps of ESPN, he made it abundantly clear that he believes he deserves the honor more than another top candidate in Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert.

“Let’s think about it,” Smart said. “As a guard, especially on the team that switches a lot, especially on the No. 1 defensive team, you are worried about every single player. And here’s the thing: When you see Defensive Player of the Year, that means he can guard all five spots.

“Nothing against Rudy, but Rudy can’t guard all five spots. I can guard all five spots and I have been doing it. I’ve done it very well.”

It’s an interesting point by Smart. However, big men such as Gobert often help their teammates defensively by clogging up lanes and blocking shots inside. Still, it is a solid strategy for Smart to try to emphasize versatility in an attempt to gain the upper hand in the race for the award.

Historically, Gobert has been recognized for his defensive impact a lot. In fact, he’s won the Defensive Player of the Year award on three separate occasions. He was also the 2016-17 leader in blocks.

As for Smart, he’s been named to two separate NBA All-Defensive teams in his career.

Only time will tell if Smart is able best Gobert in the race for this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award. If he does, it’s likely that his versatility will be largely to thank.

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Jonathan has worked as a sports writer covering NBA and NFL news since 2017. He's a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Vikings.