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Marcus Smart is officially the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year

After years of actually being the best perimeter defender in the league, Smart has officially been bestowed the honor.

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Marcus Smart is the Defensive Player of the Year. It really happened. It’s been an incredible last 30 hours for Celtics fans behind Jayson Tatum’s game-winner in Game 1 of the first round series against the Brooklyn Nets. Now, the longest-tenured Boston Celtic is being recognized for his calling card – defense.

Marcus Smart is the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he’s the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton won it in 1996. He’s also the first Celtic to win it since Kevin Garnett earned DPOY honors in 2007-08. Since Payton last won the award, the honor has largely been dominated by big centers, big forwards or big wings, including Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo most recently.

No longer.

The game is perimeter-oriented now, with several of the game’s best players not being bigs. Marcus Smart represents exactly what teams want and need out of a defender – versatility. Smart has the ability to guard players from the point guard position to even being able to hold his own in the post against bigger, post-oriented players.

That’s not a mismatch for Smart. Any team who has thought that was the case over the last year was met with a rude awakening.

The award going to Smart represents a shift in how we all look at defense. No one is arguing rim protection isn’t important (even though Marcus Smart offers his fair share of that), but it’s time to recognize and reward defensive genius. Give credit where it’s due, and that’s what NBA voters did by awarding Marcus Smart with the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Smart earned the most first-place points out of all players, and won the award pretty comfortably. Mikal Bridges finished in second place while reigning DPOY Rudy Gobert finished in third place, far behind Marcus Smart. Interestingly, Bam Adebayo missed a finalist spot by just 8 points who cares Marcus Smart is the DPOY.

The Celtics were tied with the Golden State Warriors for the best defensive rating in the NBA this season, including a blistering run over the last four months in which the defense was, frankly, dominant. Despite playing with really talented teammates on that end of the floor, all give credit to Smart for quarterbacking defensive efforts.

Marcus Smart will likely add another First Team All-Defense selection along with this latest hardware, and as he has done his whole career, he’ll look to leverage his defense into winning plays to add the one piece of hardware that matters most – a championship ring.

The last time a Celtic won Defensive Player of the Year . . . the Celtics won Banner 17.

The Celtics take on the Brooklyn Nets for Game 2 of the first round on Wednesday night.

In the meantime, here’s your reason to tear up today: