Marcus Smart has been a defensive standout since the Boston Celtics drafted him in nine years ago in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft.
He’s been in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation for what seems like the last four years, arguably being the top defender in the league on numerous fronts.
It wasn’t until last year that Smart was recognized for his efforts by being named the Defensive Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season.
It marked the end of a 26-year drought since a guard was awarded DPOY, the last one to do so was Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season.
Here’s what Payton said about Smart to Kevin Garnett on his KG’s Certified basketball show:
“And there’s only one defensive dude that I think models me, and that’s Smart. I like Marcus a lot. I think he has a lot of dawg in him too on that end where he makes havoc, he causes a lot of havoc. He causes a lot of problems.”
Payton sees a lot of himself in Smart’s game and is often reminded that other than Smart, there isn’t another guard in the league right now that can play defense at the level of Smart (although Derrick White is pretty good).
Perhaps it’ll be another 26-years before we see a guard win the DPOY award again.
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Photo Credit: Boston Celtics