Boston’s Marcus Smart Wins 2021-22 Kia Defensive Player of the Year Award

Smart finished ahead of Suns forward Mikal Bridges and three-time winner Rudy Gobert of the Jazz in the voting.

• NBA Awards 2021-22
• NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award Winners

NEW YORK – Boston Celtics shooting guard Marcus Smart has been named the 2021-22 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the NBA announced today.

This marks the first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award for Smart, who becomes the first guard to earn the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. Smart is also the second player to win the award with the Celtics, joining Kevin Garnett (2007-08).

“To be able to be named Defensive Player of the Year and be the first guard since Gary Payton in 1996 to win this just shows not only me and everyone else that it can be done,” Smart said after earning the honors.

“The way the game is changing, guards are being recognized more for their abilities to do certain things that we shouldn’t be able to do at our size. I think this award and the fact that he won it shows that and the way forward for us guards now and in the future.”

Marcus Smart receives the 2021-2022 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year award from Gary Payton.

Smart received 257 points (37 first-place votes) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges finished in second place with 202 points (22 first-place votes). Utah Jazz center and three-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert finished in third place with 136 points (12 first-place votes). Players received five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote, and one point for each third-place vote.

A starter in all 71 games he played in the 2021-22 regular season, the 6-foot-4 Smart ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) and tied for sixth in total steals ( 119). He had 19 games with three or more steals, including two games with a season-high five steals.

The 28-year-old Smart ranked among the league leaders in several “hustle” categories, finishing tied for fourth in the NBA in fumble recoveries (75) and tied for 10the both in deviations (206) and in extracted loads (16). He also set a career high for defensive rebounds per game (3.2).

Behind Smart, the Celtics led the NBA in defensive rating (106.2) and points allowed per game (104.5) and held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage (43.4) and three-point field goal percentage ( 33.9). The strong defense helped propel the Celtics to a 51-31 record and the second seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2022 NBA Playoffs presented by Google Pixel.

Smart, an eight-year NBA veteran, has been selected twice to the NBA All-Defensive First Team (2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons). He also won the NBA Hustle Award for the 2018-19 season. This season, Smart averaged a career-high 12.1 points, 5.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game.

Voting results for the 2021-22 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award are below. The vote was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP. Complete ballots for each voter will be posted on after the announcement of all the end-of-season prizes.

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