Celtics guard Marcus Smart named NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Marcus Smart is the league’s top defensive player.

The Boston Celtics star was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year on Monday night, just one day after he was announced as one of three finalists for the award.

Smart is now just the sixth guard to win the award since it was created in 1983, and the first to do so since Gary Payton did in the 1995-96 season.

Payton was at the Celtics' practice facility on Monday to break the news to Smart, too.

Michael Jordan, Alvin Robertson, Michael Cooper and Sidney Moncrief are the other guards who have won.

Smart was up against Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who has won the award in three of the past four seasons. Smart earned 257 points and 37 first-place votes. Bridges came in second with 202 points, and Gobert took third with 136. Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo, who said he felt disrespected being left off the finalist list earlier on Monday, finished fourth.

Smart is now just the second Celtics player to win the award, joining Kevin Garnett.

Smart averaged 12.2 points, 5.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game this season, his eighth with the team. The 28-year-old finished seventh in steals per game and sixth in total steals across the league. He also helped turn the Celtics into the best defensive team in the NBA this season. They held the best defensive rating at 106.2 and allowed just 104.5 points per game while holding opponents to both the lowest field-goal percentage and lowest 3-point percentage.

Smart had 20 points and five rebounds in Boston's last-second 115-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series on Sunday. Game 2 of that series is set for Wednesday.

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart is just the sixth guard to be named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)