NBA Names Defensive Player Of The Year

For the first time in over a quarter of a century (since the days of Gary Payton), the NBA has named a guard as the Defensive Player of the Year. And the honor goes to the Boston Celtics Marcus Smart. 

Smart received 37 first-place votes and 257 points overall to top second-place finisher Miles Bridges of the Phoenix Suns, who got 22 first-place votes and 202 total points. Here's how the top 5 voting shook out:

    1. Marcus Smart     257 (37)
    2. Mikal Bridges     202 (22)
    3. Rudy Gobert       136 (12)
    4. Bam Adebayo      128 (13)
    5. Jaren Jackson Jr.   99 (10)
The Celtics' ranking as the top defensive team in the league certainly put Smart on voters' radar, as they allowed the fewest points per game and the lowest opponents' field goal percentage.  

Smart himself finished 7th in the league in steals per game (1.68) and 4th in loose balls recovered (75). Smart has also been chosen to the NBA All-Defensive First Team twice (2018-19 and 2019-20).

You have to go all the way back to 1995-96 to find the last guard to win this award, when Gary Payton was known as "The Glove". 

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports