Marcus Smart Emerges as Top NBA Defensive Player

Marcus Smart: A Guard’s Quest for NBA Defensive Player of the Year

A Historic Achievement

Marcus Smart, a talented player from the Boston Celtics, aims to achieve something remarkable. He seeks to become the first guard in 26 seasons to win the prestigious NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) award, a feat last accomplished in 1996. While centers and power forwards have traditionally dominated the DPOY accolade, Smart stands out as a strong contender, currently holding the betting favorite position with +120 odds at DraftKings. His closest competitor is the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo with +300 odds.

A Rare Feat for Guards

In the history of the NBA, only two guards have managed to secure the DPOY award. Gary “The Glove” Payton, a legendary point guard, was the last guard to achieve this feat in 1996, while Michael Jordan, a renowned shooting guard, won it in 1988. The odds are against Smart, but he possesses the skills and determination to break this long-standing guard drought.

The Impact of Marcus Smart

The Defensive Backbone of the Celtics

Smart plays a vital role in the Boston Celtics’ success as the anchor of their top-rated defense. The team’s league-leading defense allows an impressive low of 104.3 points per game. This feat can be attributed to their cohesive switching defense strategy, which Smart executes masterfully. Additionally, the Celtics boast impressive statistics, ranking first in field goal percentage defense at 43.4% and tying for first in defending 3-point shots at 33.9%. Such defensive prowess has earned them the top spot in defensive efficiency with a rating of 1.035, further exemplifying Smart’s impact on the team’s performance.

A Defensive Juggernaut

The Celtics’ recent surge, winning 26 out of their last 32 games since late January, can be attributed in large part to their stifling defense. Though it took some time for the team to find their defensive rhythm, they have now emerged as a formidable force. This transformation is primarily thanks to individuals like Marcus Smart, who consistently disrupt opponents’ offensive strategies with his tenacious defense.

Filling the Gap

An unfortunate setback occurred when the Celtics lost their center, Robert Williams, to a knee injury. Williams’ absence meant a significant gap in the team’s defensive coordination and communication. However, Smart has risen to the occasion, assuming the role of the defensive leader. His teammates recognize and value his immense contribution to the team’s success. Williams himself admires Smart’s defensive prowess and draws inspiration from his relentless energy and commitment to shutting down opponents. Smart’s versatility allows him to guard players across positions, whether they be point guards, shooting guards, forwards, or even big men. His ability to seamlessly switch and neutralize threats makes him an invaluable asset to the Celtics.

The Case for DPOY

Smart presents a compelling argument for his bid to win the DPOY award. As a guard playing on a team that frequently employs switching defenses, he faces the daunting task of guarding players at all positions. This responsibility requires him to be constantly vigilant and adaptable, always considering the unique challenges posed by each opponent. Smart takes pride in his defensive abilities and asserts that a worthy DPOY should be able to guard all five positions on the court. With utmost respect for Rudy Gobert, a highly regarded contender, Smart highlights his own versatility and success in guarding players across positions throughout the season.


In the world of basketball, Marcus Smart’s pursuit of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award as a guard is refreshing and inspiring. Standing as the betting favorite, his impact on the Boston Celtics’ defense is undeniable. While traditional statistics may not fully encapsulate the range and effectiveness of his defensive prowess, Smart’s ability to guard players at all positions with skill, tenacity, and versatility sets him apart. Should he succeed in winning the coveted DPOY title, Smart would not only make history but also redefine the role of guards in defensive excellence.


1. Can Marcus Smart’s defensive skills challenge the dominance of big men in the NBA DPOY race?

While it is rare for guards to win the DPOY award, Marcus Smart’s exceptional defensive abilities make a strong case for bridging the gap between guards and big men. His versatility and effectiveness in guarding players across positions demonstrate that guards can indeed compete for and excel in this prestigious accolade.

2. How has Marcus Smart contributed to the Boston Celtics’ defensive success?

Marcus Smart serves as the defensive linchpin of the Boston Celtics, leading the team’s top-rated defense. His tenacious style of play, combined with his ability to disrupt opponents’ strategies, has elevated the Celtics’ defensive performance. Smart’s leadership, adaptability, and skillset make him invaluable in maintaining the team’s defensive dominance.

3. What sets Marcus Smart apart from other contenders for the DPOY award?

While other contenders, such as Rudy Gobert, possess exceptional defensive skills, Marcus Smart’s ability to guard players at all positions distinguishes him. His versatility allows him to seamlessly switch between guarding guards, forwards, and even big men, making him a unique and formidable force on the defensive end.

4. How has Marcus Smart’s defensive impact influenced the Boston Celtics’ recent success?

Marcus Smart’s defensive contributions have been instrumental in the Boston Celtics’ recent surge, winning 26 out of their last 32 games. His ability to disrupt opponents’ offensive plays, guard multiple positions, and provide defensive leadership has propelled the team’s overall performance and solidified their reputation as a defensive powerhouse.

5. When was the last time a guard won the DPOY award in the NBA?

The last guard to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award was Gary “The Glove” Payton in 1996. Since then, the award has primarily been dominated by centers and power forwards. Marcus Smart’s pursuit of this honor highlights the rarity and significance of a guard excelling at such an elite defensive level in the modern game.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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