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Celtics' Smart named NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Celtics guard Marcus Smart was named the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, the league announced Monday. He is the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1996.

Smart received 37 first-place votes and won the award over Suns forward Mikal Bridges and Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Bridges finished with 22-first place votes and Gobert with 12.

Smart, 28, ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) at the end of the regular season.

According to Jay King, Celtics beat writer: Smart has always been a top defender. Even as a rookie, he could guard just about anyone. Still, becoming the first guard to win the Defensive Player of the Year award since 1996 cements him as one of the best perimeter defenders of this generation.

Smart won the big man’s trophy as a 6-foot-3 point guard. He will likely soon make first team All-Defense for the third time. He’s building a long resume as one of the NBA’s premier stoppers.

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