Smart is the first guard to earn the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995/96 season. He’s also the second Celtic to win the award, joining Kevin Garnett (2007/08).
The 100 votes among sportswriters and broadcasters were spread out, reflecting that there was no clear-cut favorite for the award this season. Smart’s candidacy was aided by Boston’s strong finish and status as the league’s top-rated defensive unit. The team allowed the fewest points per game and lowest field-goal percentage.
Smart received 257 points overall and 37 first-place votes. Suns forward Mikal Bridges finished in second place with 202 points (22 first-place votes), while Jazz center and three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert was in third place with 136 points (12 first-place votes).
Overall, seven players received at least one first-place vote, including Bam Adebayo (13), Jaren Jackson Jr. (10), Giannis Antetokounmpo (5), and Robert Williams III (1). Jrue Holiday, Al Horford, Draymond Green, and Matisse Thybulle also earned votes.
The full results can be viewed here.
Smart ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) and tied for sixth in total steals (119). Smart, who signed a four-year, $77MM contract last offseason, ranked among the league leaders in several “hustle” categories, finishing tied for fourth in loose balls recovered (75) and tied for 10th in both deflections (206) and charges drawn (16).