It is the first Defensive Player of the Year Award for Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (R), who is the first guard to claim the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. Photo by CJ Gunther/EPA-EFE
April 18 (UPI) -- Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season, the league announced Monday.
It is the first Defensive Player of the Year Award for Smart, who is the first guard to claim the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season.
Smart received 257 points -- including 37 first-place votes -- to finish first in voting from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges garnered 202 points and received 22 first-place votes to end in second.
Utah Jazz star center Rudy Gobert had 136 points and 12 first-place votes to finish third in voting.
Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo (128 points, 13 first-place votes), Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (99 points, 10 first-place votes), Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (58 points, five first-place votes) and Celtics center Robert Williams III (eight points, one first-place vote) also received first-place votes.
Smart ended the regular season ranked seventh in the league in steals per game (1.68) for a Celtics team that topped the NBA in defensive rating (106.2) and points allowed per game (104.5).
The 28-year-old Smart also finished fifth among all NBA guards with a defensive rating of 105.2, and he was first in the league with 1.1 loose balls recovered per game.
Smart becomes the second Celtics player ever to win the DPOY award, joining Basketball Hall of Fame big man Kevin Garnett (2007-08).
Big men have dominated the defensive award since its inception in 1982. Smart and Payton are the only two point guards to win it, and shooting guards have earned the honor another five times -- but none since Michael Jordan in 1988.
Centers and forwards have won the remainder of the DPOY awards.