The Boston Celtics have the luxury of boasting the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart, who became the first point guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1996.
However, during a recent interview between Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat, and Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, the defensive-minded center claimed that he should have won the award at the end of last season.
During a March 1 appearance on ESPN’s Celtics All-Access on NBA Today, Smart responded to Adebayo’s claims, noting that both of them knew that was a lie.
“Bam, come on now. Bam’s a good guy, good friend of mine. But, me and Bam both know that’s a lie. The things I was doing at that time, at my size, was different. And, last time I recall, Bam I blocked your shot as well, your dunk as well, so, that should let you know everything you need to know,” Smart said.
Smart may have built his reputation on his defensive ability, but this season, he is showing how capable he is of initiating an offense and is providing his team with per-game averages of 11.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game on 42.2% shooting from the field, and 33.3% shooting from deep.
What Did Bam Adebayo Say About Marcus Smart?
During his February 27 interview with Taylor Rooks, Adebayo was honest in his belief that he deserved to be recognized as the best defensive player for the last two seasons and therefore should have been a back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year.
“Guys who switch one through five, there’s not a lot of us, me, LeBron, Giannis,” Adebayo said, “It has to translate. I feel like Rudy (Gobert) in the playoffs didn’t translate, and Marcus Smart guards one through four, so that’s the thing I thought was different between me and them.”
The Heat are struggling this season and currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, which means they may need to navigate the play-in tournament in order to qualify for the playoffs.
Jayson Tatum Put on Notice By Richard Jefferson
While Adebayo might feel aggrieved at missing out on some personal accolades, he does share one thing with Smart: their friendship with superstar forward Jayson Tatum. However, since returning from the All-Star break, the St. Louis native has been struggling to find his rhythm, which has led some to believe he is slipping out of the MVP race.
During a February 28 episode of ESPN’s NBA Today, former NBA champion Richard Jefferson shared his thoughts on Tatum’s recent slump and why he needs to get back to his All-Star level as soon as possible.
“If you’re going to go to the NBA Finals, this is the halfway point, this is the halfway mark. So, to say he needs some rest, I don’t know how much rest he got over the All-Star break, but we do know that there was an extended seven, eight-day period where there was only one game because he didn’t play the game before,” Jefferson said, “This is part of the growing up process. If you’re going to do this, and you’re going to be an MVP candidate, you’re going to be counted on for 35-to-40 minutes a night for 82 games. He’s in that conversation, but he’s gotta get through this tough spot.”