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Marcus Smart named NBA Defensive Player of the Year

The former Cowboy became the first guard to win this award since Gary Payton.

NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The last time a guard won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award was Gary Payton in 1996. That should put in perspective just how outstanding a guard has to be on the defensive end of the floor to win Defensive Player of the Year.

Former Oklahoma State Cowboy Marcus Smart broke the 26 year streak when he was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season on Monday night. Smart averaged 1.7 steals-per-game and finished the regular season with a sparkling 107.1 defensive rating.

Smart is one of two former Oklahoma State Cowboys nominated for a performance award for the 2021-22 NBA season. Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons is up against Toronto’s Scottie Barnes and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley for NBA Rookie of the Year. That winner of that award has not been announced yet.

Smart’s Boston Celtics are the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and beat the No. 7 seed Brooklyn Nets in game one yesterday 115-114. Smart made the game winning assist to teammate Jayson Tatum as time expired to lift the Celtics to a 1-0 series advantage. Smart finished game one of the first round with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He also had two steals in 36 minutes.

Smart won the Defensive Player of the Year award with relative ease as Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges finished 55 votes behind Smart. Former DPOY Rudy Gobert finished third in the voting.

Smart helped turn the Celtics defense into the best defense in the NBA this season. Boston finished with a 106.2 defensive rating and allowed just 104.5 points per game. The former Cowboys averaged 12.2 points, 5.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in his first full season as the starting point guard for Boston. Smart and the Celtics take the court in Boston for game two against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at 6:00 CST on TNT.