This marks the first NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award for Smart, who becomes the first guard to earn the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. Smart is also the second player to win the award with the Celtics, joining Kevin Garnett (2007-08).
Smart received 257 points (37 first-place votes) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges finished in second place with 202 points (22 first-place votes). Utah Jazz center and three-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert finished in third place with 136 points (12 first-place votes). Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
A starter in all 71 of his games played in the 2021-22 regular season, the 6-4 Smart ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) and tied for sixth in total steals (119). He had 19 games with three or more steals, including two games with a season-high five steals.
Smart, 28, ranked among the league leaders in several “hustle” categories, finishing tied for fourth in the NBA in loose balls recovered (75) and tied for 10th in both deflections (206) and charges drawn (16). He also set a career high in defensive rebounds per game (3.2).
Behind Smart, the Celtics led the NBA in defensive rating (106.2) and points allowed per game (104.5) and held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage (43.4) and three-point field goal percentage (33.9). The strong defense helped propel the Celtics to a 51-31 record and the second seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2022 NBA Playoffs presented by Google Pixel.
An eight-year NBA veteran, Smart has been selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team twice (2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons). He also won the NBA Hustle Award for the 2018-19 season. This season, Smart averaged 12.1 points, a career-high 5.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game.
The voting results for the 2021-22 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award are below. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP. Complete ballots for each voter will be posted at PR.NBA.com after the announcement of all end-of-season awards.
Below is the list of winners of the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.