The NBA announced today that Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been chosen the 2021-22 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

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

Smart wins his first NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, becoming the first guard to do it since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. Smart is the Celtics’ second player to earn the award, following Kevin Garnett (2007-08).


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

A global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters gave Smart 257 points (37 first-place votes). Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns came in second with 202 points (22 first-place votes). Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz center and three-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, finished third with 136 points (12 first-place votes).