When the Boston Celtics drafted Marcus Smart with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, they knew exactly what they were getting. While they had higher expectations for Smart on the offensive end, he still manages to be extremely productive for the Celtics.
Smart has held a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in recent years, earning a place on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2015. But if you ask Celtics fans and players, Smart is worthy of far greater awards to acknowledge his efforts on the defensive end.
Kemba Walker is among those who greatly admire Smart’s tenacity on every defensive possession, as he is always up for the challenge on any given night. On Sunday, Smart assisted the Celtics in picking up a crucial win against the Oklahoma City Thunder by contributing four steals, including a game-clinching play. Walker was full of praise for the guard in an interview that followed the game.
“That’s what he’s there for, man. He brings a different type of energy to our ball club. We love him out there. Defensive Player of the Year, no question. With players like that, there’s not many players making plays like that in clutch situations,” said Walker, according to Clutch Points.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 9, 2020
Smart certainly deserves to be in the conversation following brilliant performances throughout the season. He would be the first guard to be named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year since Gary Payton in 1995-96. Centers and forwards tend to receive voting advantage as most pundits agree that they play a greater role on the defensive side.
His teammate Jayson Tatum has also performed at an elite level on defense, making him a contender for the award. There will also be strong competition from Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and back-to-back winner Rudy Gobert.
For the 2019-20 NBA season, Smart is averaging career-highs across the board with 12.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.5 steals in 31.5 minutes of play. But his statistics don’t tell the entire story when it comes to Smart’s impact on the team, as mentioned by Walker in his interview.
There have been multiple games in which Smart came up big in crunch time to save the Celtics. With that being said, the Celtics are rumored to be searching for a guard on the market. Darren Collison would have been an intriguing option for them, but he recently announced his wish to stay retired for the rest of the year, as noted by The Inquisitr.