Heading into the 2021-22 NBA season, a guard hadn’t won the Defensive Player of the Year award since the 1995-96 campaign when Gary Payton claimed the hardware.
The voting for this season’s honor ultimately went against the grain, as the top two point-getters both were guards.
Marcus Smart is your new Defensive Player of the Year after quarterbacking what arguably was the best defense in the NBA during the regular season. Finishing right behind Smart was Phoenix Suns guard Mikal Bridges, who garnered nearly a quarter of the first-place votes.
Bridges obviously would have liked to win the award but the fourth-year pro wasn’t too upset about coming up empty-handed. Bridges, as he explained on Twitter, was happy for Smart and pleased to see guards receive their deserved recognition in the DPOY space.
“Congrats to Marcus Smart fr ! Happy they start realizing it aint easy guarding mfs on the island every night ! Very much deserved … I appreciate everybody that was rockin wit me lol we’ll be ok its a blessing to even be apart of the convo,” Bridges tweeted Monday night.
It probably was much easier for Bridges not to win DPOY, considering he’s in a very good spot to earn a far more prestigious honor. The Phoenix Suns, who own a 1-0 lead in their first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans, will have home-court advantage throughout the 2022 NBA playoffs.