Steve Kerr and the Warriors understand why Marcus Smart was named the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Three days before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Boston Celtics, Kerr broke down what makes Smart such an elite defender, and even had a unique comparison to one of his own players.
“His strength and his anticipation, he’s got an incredible feel for the game at that end,” Kerr told reporters on Monday. “He’s like the guard version of Draymond [Green]. He’s reading angles, he’s guarding all five positions, if he switches on to a five man, he’s so strong, he can hold them off. He’s quick enough to chase point guards around, big enough to guard wings so he can literally guard 1-5 in the modern game. He’s appropriately named, very smart player and really versatile and great, great defender.”
Smart became the first guard to win the prestigious honor since Gary Payton in 1996.
The 6-foot-4 Celtics guard with a 7-foot-1 mentality finished the season among the top 10 in steals, and led Boston’s No. 1 rated defense.
Just like Green, Smart's intensity and fearlessness can be felt as soon as he steps on the floor. And when he’s not playing, it definitely shows.
Golden State Warriors
Smart, and the Celtics, have made things really hard for even the best teams this season and into the playoffs. They swept Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, eliminated reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games and then bounced back to win another seven-game series against the Miami Heat.
One of the most frequently stated axioms in sports is that "defense wins championships."
Boston hasn’t won the title just yet, but Smart’s defensive IQ has without a doubt helped get the Celtics to where they are.
They now face a whole new monster in the Warriors, but Smart is likely ready for the challenge.