Marcus Smart won the 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year award, and for his Boston Celtics teammate Jaylen Brown, it is all what he needs to cement himself as a defensive great.
Smart is the first guard since Gary Payton (1995-96) to win DPOY. The award has been taken by forwards and big men since then, so for a guard to win it is a massive feat that will surely go down in history. That is why the Celtics were also in jovial mood and celebrated after learning of their teammate's accomplishment.
“Marcus just cemented his name as one of the defensive greats. … I think that’s pretty exciting. So we couldn’t be more proud of him. We got to celebrate him yesterday at practice. I ain’t seen him smile like that in a while, so that was pretty nice,” Brown said, per John Karalis of the Boston Sports Journal.
Smart has long been an elite defender, but it is only recently that he and other guards like Mikal Bridges got really acknowledged for their defensive impact.
Now that he has won the award, though, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics will hope Marcus Smart continues to make a difference for them on that end of the floor. They really need him to step up defensively in the playoffs, especially as they try to finally reach the NBA Finals.
The Celtics won Game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets in their playoff series, but for them to make quick work of their opponents, Smart has the difficult task of guarding Kyrie Irving. Game 2 is set on Wednesday at TD Garden before the series shifts to New York.