From the outset, witnessing Boston Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart win the NBA’s 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year award felt like a good thing for the league. Something critics and media members alike would celebrate, but that’s not how everyone felt the morning after Smart became the first guard in 26 years to earn the league’s prestigious honor.
Basketball Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton, who personally honored Smart in front of teammates and members of the Celtics organization, Monday, was the last guard to win DPOY back in 1996. Smart, who received 257 points (37 first-place votes), topped Phoenix Suns guard Mikal Bridges (202 points, 22 first-place votes) and four-time finalist Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, per NBA.com.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Tom Haberstroh On Marcus Smart Winning DPOY: ‘It’s Egregious’
While some players, including a finalist such as Bridges, have congratulated Smart for his achievement, NBA analyst Tom Haberstroh, who joined the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, was perplexed by the Monday evenings news.
“It is egregious that Marcus Smart in 2022 is considered the best defensive player of the year,” Haberstroh said per the Dan LeBarard Show with Stugotz. “I don’t understand what exactly happened here beyond the fact that Robert Williams got hurt because on March 22, Marcus Smart was +4,000, eighth place odds to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. March 22. What happened a few days later? Robert Williams got hurt, and the NBA voting cohort, they just got lazy and said, “Who’s the best defensive team in the NBA? It’s Boston. OK. Who’s the most actively or visually defensive player on that team?”
Haberstroh: Defensive Player of the Year Award is too Team-Based?
Haberstroh is not convinced that Smart, who shared the floor with Williams for most of the regular season, should be awarded the all-defensive crown based on team success.
“It’s Marcus Smart, who is also the guy who’s a routine anti-flopper rule violator,” Haberstroh added. “Do you guys remember the one in The Bubble, where there was a Raptors player going for a layup on a fast break, and out of nowhere, here comes Marcus Smart flying in not so he can contest the layup but so that he can brush shoulders with Pascal Siakam and then just dart onto the floor. [He] completely dove to try to draw the foul, and he got it.”
It’s unfair for Haberstroh to harp on Smart’s past, considering his argument’s basis on Marcus flopping. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if he isn’t the only analyst thinking the same thing less than one day after the announcement.
“For a Celtics team that led the league in defensive rating, that’s a team award, points allowed per game; team again. He also ranked fifth among all NBA guards with a defensive rating of 105.2 — fifth among guards,” Haberstroh pointed out. “Fifth among 40% of the league, he ranked fifth. This is his individual credential. And then it says, he was first in the league with 1.1 loose balls recovered per game.”