Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has always advocated for himself as the best defender in the NBA.
Now, he has the award to back that up.
Smart, who is in his eighth season with the Celtics, was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year on Monday night for the first time in his career.
For nearly three decades, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award has exclusively gone to big men who protect the paint and block shots. Smart became the first guard to take home the honor since Gary Payton in 1995-96.
Smart received 37 first-place votes to edge out Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert for the coveted award.
Smart, a two-time All-Defensive player, anchored a stout Celtics defense that finished first in the league in the regular season in defensive rating (106.2). Smart ranked sixth in steals with 1.7 per game and also placed fifth in defensive win shares (10.3).
Smart is just the second player in Celtics history to claim the title of the league’s top defensive player, joining Kevin Garnett who accomplished the feat in 2007-08.