Marcus Smart

Did Marcus Smart really deserve to win DPOY?

Home » NBA » Boston Celtics » Marcus Smart defensive stats 2022: Did Smart deserve DPOY?

Marcus Smart defensive stats 2022 and his impact on the floor forced the NBA to give the Defensive Player of the Year award to a backcourt player for the first time since 1996. And, while some may argue that he wasn’t deserving of it, he surely made a strong case.

Basketball is a perimeter-oriented game more than anything nowadays. It shows every year in the playoffs when teams spread out the offense and force Rudy Gobert to step away from the perimeter. That’s why players like Ben Simmons, Draymond Green, and Mikal Bridges are so valuable.

Not many people can guard one through five. Either because of their size, strength, or lateral quickness, you name it. But Marcus Smart ranks among the best defenders in NBA history in that regard. Despite his height, he can hold his own versus big men like the best of them.

Marcus Smart defensive stats 2022

Simply put, Marcus Smart‘s DPOY votes were well-deserved. You could argue that he was the best defender on the best defensive team in the league and that would be more than enough. But as it usually happens with NBA award winners, we’ll dig a little deeper into this subject.

On one hand, Marcus Smart’s 1.7 steals per game aren’t that impressive, especially when compared to what Jaren Jackson Jr. did. Also, 0.3 blocks per game are low, even for a guard. But advanced stats should back up Smart’s case.


He posted a defensive rating of 107.1 and was one of just two guards (alongside Chris Paul) to rank in the top 20 in both defensive rating and defensive box plus/minus (1.7). He also ranked 12th in the league with 3.7 Defensive Win Shares. Smart also finished 8th in steal percentage at 2.6%. While he wasn’t a league leader in any of those stats, the accumulation might well make a case for him.

You could also argue that Mikal Bridges deserved to get the award and you wouldn’t be wrong. But Smart ranked above Bridges in nearly every single simple and advanced stat while playing on a team with a better defense. Also, Smart guarded big men more often than Bridges did this season.

Marcus Smart finally gets recognition

Marcus Smart has been saying he’s the best defender in the league for years now, so some think the league is just compensating him once and for all. That has happened in the past, so we can’t just rule it out, but it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it.

Smart’s defensive impact goes way beyond the stat sheet. He puts his body on the line on every single possession, is a huge threat in passing lanes, and runs through screens more often than any other player in the league. The physical burden he has to endure is unmatched.

As we mentioned before, his ability to guard multiple spots has allowed the Celtics’ switch defense to be so successful. He’s one of the best when it comes to guarding the three-point line, which has become most teams’ primary weapon in today’s league.


So, why not reward the guy who’s best at taking that strength away from the rivals? What good does it do to give Gobert another DPOY award just to watch him become his team’s biggest liability come playoff time? Rim protectors are a dying breed in today’s game, so it was only right the league rewarded a perimeter stopper.

Smart may not be your favorite player with all the flopping and trash-talking. But he’s a guy every single coach in the league would go to war with and for. His competitiveness, drive, and top-notch defensive IQ ended a 26-year-drought and he’s now on the same club with the likes of Michael Jordan, Alvin Robertson, Michael Cooper, Sidney Moncrief, and Gary Payton. Not too shabby.

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