Boston Celtics: 2 players who should be Defensive Player of the Year candidates

Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics DPOY candidate No. 1: Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart has been the leader of Boston’s defensive efforts for quite some time now, and as the unit continues to succeed, he continues to get more recognition. After a down year last season, Smart has bounced back this season to reassert himself as one of the most tenacious defensive guards in the game, and his DPOY campaign appears to be picking up some serious steam.

Much has been made of Smart’s development into a true point guard on offense, but defensively he’s been at the top of his game as well. Smart draws the toughest assignment on defense on a nightly basis, and while most of these players will get their points one way or another, Smart does all he can to make their lives as tough as possible. For example, Donovan Mitchell dropped 37 points for the Jazz in Wednesday’s game, but it didn’t matter because they still lost by 28 points.

Smart’s value is typically defined in plays that don’t appear on the statsheet. He’s fifth in the league with 1.7 steals per game, but his advanced metrics don’t score as high as Williams’ do (3.3 defensive win shares, 104.8 defensive rating). Those numbers are nothing to scoff at, but they may ultimately hold back Smart from winning the award.

It’s clear that Smart is the heart and soul of the best defense in the league though, and that scores some points with voters. Smart has always been a fantastic defender, but given how good Boston’s defensie has been this season, and how integral Smart’s role is within that unit, it’s clear why he’s finally getting the consideration he deserves.

Next. Maine Celtics star Chris Clemons deserves attention. dark

Smart’s impact won’t always show up on the statsheet, but for those who watch the games, his impact is hard to miss. He’s constantly helping his teammates get set, bursting through screens, poking balls free, diving for loose balls, and just generally making life difficult for his matchup. Smart’s finally getting the resepct he deserves for his defensive game, and it should at least lead to a spot as one of the three finalists for the award.