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NBA officials announced the award on Tuesday. The last guard to win this honor was Seattle’s Gary Payton in 1995-96.
Smart helped the Celtics lead the NBA in defensive rating and scoring defense (104.6) while holding opponents to a league-low field-goal percentage (.434) and 3-point percentage (.339). The 28-year-old ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) and tied for sixth in total steals (119).
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) defends as Brooklyn Nets guard Goran Dragic, of Slovenia, right, looks for an opening in the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round Eastern Conference playoff series, Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Boston. The Celtics won 115-114. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Smart received 257 total points and earned 37 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges finished second with 202 points and 22 first-place votes.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who had won the award in 2018, 2019 and 2021, finished third with 136 points and 12 first-place votes.
Brooklyn Nets forward Bruce Brown (1) drives with the ball as Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) defends in the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round Eastern Conference playoff series, Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Boston. The Celtics won 115-114. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Smart, who started each of the 71 regular-season games he played, tied for fourth in loose balls recovered (75), and tied for 10th in deflections (106) and charges drawn (16). He had a career-high 3.2 defensive rebounds per game.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won defensive player of the year in 2020.
Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart (36) chases a loose ball in front of Toronto Raptors’ Malachi Flynn during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Players received five points for each first-place vote, three for each second-place vote, and one for each third-place vote.