Marcus Smart named to NBA All-Defensive First Team

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Marcus Smart has been one of the top defensive guards in the NBA for a couple of seasons now, but he failed to receive that recognition on a league-wide level prior to the 2018-19 regular season. Part of that has been a matter of circumstance. All-Defensive team players are generally always starters and that’s something that Smart had not been prior to this regular season due to the presence of Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley.

However, the point guard was inserted into the starting five one month into the regular season in 2018-19 and held onto the spot for the remainder of the year while putting together the best season of his career. On Wednesday, he was rewarded for that performance with a selection to the NBA All-Defensive first team.

Smart led all guards with 63 first-place votes while also earning 19 second-place nods among 100 NBA writers. He was joined on the first team by Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert. It was the first defensive team selection for both Smart and Bledsoe and the first time a Celtic made first-team All-Defense since Avery Bradley in 2016.

Smart finished his season with a career-high 1.8 steals per game which ranked sixth overall in the NBA. He was a constant bright spot during a disappointing season for the Celtics in the first year of a four-year contract.

Al Horford (four votes), Jaylen Brown (one vote) and Kyrie Irving (one vote) were the only other Celtics to receive votes for the All-Defensive honors. Voting has not yet been made public so were are only left to wonder who decided to give Irving an All-Defensive nod.

In the meantime though, this is a fitting honor for Smart, who should probably already have a couple of these awards sitting in his trophy case back home. We laid out the case in-depth here at BSJ about his worthiness of the award and there's no question his absence for much of the series against the Bucks led to serious holes on the defensive end for this team. It remains to be seen whether he will remain in Boston for the long term or be used a trade chip to land a star, but his presence will continue to be felt as a defensive building block no matter where he lands.

Full voting results: