The wait is over. The 2022 NBA awards have begun and we already know the Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics has won the award with 257 votes to become the first guard to do so since Gary Payton in 1996.

Smart emerged victorious ahead of Phoenix Suns small forward Mikal Bridges (202 votes) and Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert (136 votes), who were the other finalists over the likes of Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo or Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green.

Smart's award is quite special, as not many guards have won Defensive Player of The Year since its inception in 1982-1983. As a matter of fact, he is the second Celtics player to win DPOY (Kevin Garnett, 2007-08) and just the sixth guard in NBA history to do so.

Which guards have won NBA Defensive Player of the Year?

26 years later, a guard has been named Defensive Player of the Year. Marcus Smart has been recognized for his 71 starts in all his apperances in the 2021-22 NBA regular season, in which he finished seventh in steals per game (1.68) and sixth in total steals (119).

Smart has joined the small club of guards to win DPOY, becoming the sixth to do so. Before him, Michael Jordan and Gary Payton were among the most notable ones to claim the prize. These are all the guards who have won it:

  • Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks, 1982-83)
  • Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks, 1983-84)
  • Alvin Robertson (San Antonio Spurs, 1985-86)
  • Michael Cooper (Los Angeles Lakers, 1986-87)
  • Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls, 1987-88)
  • Gary Payton (Seattle SuperSonics, 1995-96)
  • Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics, 2021-22)