Marcus Smart is off to perhaps the best start of his career this season. While the offensive numbers for Smart have improved dramatically, it’s his defense that’s really caught the attention of people around the league.
Smart’s former teammate Isaiah Thomas took to Twitter to praise him, and to start a very early campaign for him to be the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Marcus Smart DPOY
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) November 21, 2019
Another former member of the Boston Celtics in Kendrick Perkins responded to Thomas’ tweet to give his support to Smart.
Great minds think a like ✊?✊?✊?
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) November 21, 2019
It’s no secret that Smart is a force on the defensive end: He was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team last season for the first time in his career. And while Thomas and Perkins might both be biased as former Celtics, it’s easy to see why Smart is getting so much early-season praise.
Smart has always been known to match up against the opposing team’s best player, but through 14 games Smart, who is listed at 6-feet-3-inches tall, has been instrumental in helping stop opposing team’s big men. Enes Kanter is the only center on the Celtics’ roster taller than six-foot-eight who has played in more than five games. Despite this lack of height, the Celtics are third in the league in points given up in the paint, trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, and a major reason for that is Smart’s presence on the court. The Celtics are currently seventh in the league in defensive rating at 102.4.
Smart’s offense has also seen a significant bump this season. Smart is averaging career-highs in points per game (12.1), assists per game (5.1), and free throw percentage (83 percent). He’s also averaging a career-low in turnovers per game (0.9) and personal fouls per game (2.2).
Wednesday night, the Celtics fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 107-104 in overtime. Smart played 40 minutes and scored 15 points and tacked on eight assists and two steals.
The Celtics are back in action Friday night in Denver to take on another three-loss team in the 10-3 Nuggets.