Whether it be due to his Celtics teammates campaigning for him, because oddsmakers started to pay attention to the league’s best defense or because bettors started placing wagers at a noteworthy clip, one way or another, Marcus Smart now is the betting favorite to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Smart now sits on the top betting line (+160) at DraftKings Sportsbook ahead of big men Bam Adebayo (+250), Mikal Bridges (+310) and Rudy Gobert (+400) while Giannis Antetokounmpo (15-to-1) is back of the pack.
Smart, according to future tracker SportsBettingDime, was 40-to-1 as recently as last week. The outlet had Smart at 220-to-1 (!!) on March 12 while he was 200-to-1 on DraftKings Sportsbook on March 9, as well. If you placed a $10 bet on Smart to win Defensive Player of the Year back on March 12 (+22000), and he earns the award at season’s end, your pizza money would turn into a total payout of $2,210. Even a $10 bet on Smart at 40-to-1 just one week ago would make one lucky bettor $400 richer.
Now, that same $10 wager would pay out $26. Sure, your pizza may have went from a small to a party size, but it’s clear Smart money isn’t going as far as it once did. It’s a rather remarkable slash in prices with just six games left in the regular season.
Obviously, none of this is to say that Smart is a guarantee to take home his first Defensive Player of the Year honor. The betting prices don’t align directly to the award winner, but it’s clear oddsmakers view the veteran guard as a real threat.
Smart, who has made the pitch that he should be in the running in the past, certainly would agree. And the point guard he has a point.
Smart arguably is the best defender (especially with the injury to Robert Williams) on the best defensive team in the league. The Celtics have held the NBA’s best defensive rating throughout much of the last few weeks all while it’s been team defense which has played a crucial role in a remarkable midseason turnaround. Now that the group is elevating to the top of the Eastern Conference standings — the C’s are one game back of top-seeded Miami Heat — Smart and other teammates are gaining the individual recognition.