I appreciate tough and *Smart* on-ball defenders and the NBA finally rewarded one of them.
I’m talking about defenders who… pick up the ball-handler full court, put their body on the line to take charges and WANT to guard the opponent’s best offensive player (most players aren’t like that… most players prefer to relax so they can be fresh for the offensive end of the court… most players want to take it easy on defense)
And for that reason, I’m thrilled that Marcus Smart was just named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Smart is the first perimeter defender to win the award since ‘The Glove’ Gary Payton in 1996.
Well-deserved for Smart, in my opinion.
(I’m not taking anything away from the rim-protecting bigs like Embiid, Jokic, or from Giannis, but we NEED everyone to appreciate elite defensive guards too!)
Yes, Marcus Smart flops too much… but flopping is constantly rewarded in the NBA so who can blame him?
Smart is a fun defensive player to study… he’s always in the right position, he has active hands, he can guard multiple positions (including many bigs) and he gives it his all on every possession.
My favorite part of his game is that he knows how to play hard with physical defense without fouling.
That’s something that a lot of basketball players at all levels never figure out, unfortunately.
Marcus Smart is a world-class defender, particularly at using his arm bar to “hold,” “direct,” and “impede” offensive players from getting where they want to go on the court.
Smart knows just how much contact he’ll get away with and he uses his body well while “showing hands” so the referees rarely blow their whistle.
Like I mentioned before, there’s a lot to learn by studying him.