Last Word On Basketball

Is Marcus Smart’s DPOY a New Regular?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Marcus Smart of the USA talks to the media during a Team United State of America National Basketball team training session at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on August 20, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Is Marcus Smart’s DPOY a New Regular?

Marcus Smart has made history this year. Smart won Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), an award that is very forward or center heavy. For Smart to win as a guard is very impressive. As a matter of fact, no guard has won the award since Gary Payton in 1996. This begs the question, is this a new norm for guards or is Smart an exception to the rule?

Marcus Smart DPOY – A New Regular

Smart was selected to All-defensive first teams in the 2018-19 season as well as the 2019-20 season. He has proved to be a worthy defender for this award. He is a guy that can lock up any team’s best scorer and put up a fight. Besides Ben Simmons, who is an exception himself, no guard has finished top 5 in Defensive Player of the Year voting in the last five years.

Despite guards not receiving the credit they deserve from voters, players seem to give credit to other guards on the defensive end. Players such as Kevin Durant have really given different guards such as Jrue Holiday respect. Most NBA players have given guards respect as they do so much to keep other guards from scoring on the perimeter.

The league is also adapting so much more than in years prior. With three-point shooting taking up almost 40% of all shots last year, defense on the perimeter is a necessity for teams wanting to win. 10 years ago the three-point shot only took up 22% of all shots. As the NBA adapts, the award should adapt with it.

An Exception

Despite Smart’s impressive case, the history is stacked against him. Smart marks the sixth guard to win Defensive Player of the Year. Smart also had the benefit of playing alongside Robert Williams, a player in All-Defensive contention himself. Williams is averaging 2.2 blocks and a steal per game. He also has great switch-ability in a zone-heavy offense. Any flaws that Smart may have shown this year were swallowed up by Williams down low.

This year’s race for Defensive Player of the Year has also been plagued with injury. Bam Adebayo, one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year, played only 56 games this season. Draymond Green also seemed to be running away with the award early on in the season until he was sidelined and finished with 46 games played. There is a chance Smart would have won the award if these players stayed healthy, but it would’ve been far more difficult.


Marcus Smart is an amazing defender who absolutely deserves this award. No matter what asterisks people want to put on the award, it still has his name on it. Smart is a great defender on an amazing Eastern conference team. There is the question of how long until a guard wins the award again? While that is yet to be seen,  all that matters now is Smart is the Defensive Player of the Year in a highly competitive race.

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