Jazz coach shares thoughts on Marcus Smart winning DPOY over Gobert


Marcus Smart's campaign for Defensive Player of the Year paid off Monday -- which means the other two finalists were left empty-handed.

The Boston Celtics guard beat out Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert to win 2021-22 DPOY, becoming the first guard to earn the award since Gary Payton in 1996.

Bridges was gracious in defeat, congratulating Smart on Twitter for his "very much deserved" award. Smart and Gobert had some back-and-forth in the media this season about the DPOY candidacy, though. So, how do Gobert and the Utah Jazz feel about Smart winning the award?

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Jazz coach Quin Snyder offered a very diplomatic reaction.

"First of all, congratulations to Marcus," Snyder said Monday, via Deseret News' Jay Drew. "He’s a terrific defender. I think, not just the things that he does physically on the court, but I think his tenacity and his leadership on the defensive end (is terrific). He’s someone I know our whole team, including Rudy really respects."

Gobert had won three of the last four DPOY awards but finished third in this year's voting behind Smart and Bridges. While Snyder obviously supported Gobert's case, he wondered about a consolation prize for the talented center as Utah battles the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

"Asking me that question is a tough one, obviously, because there is a guy that plays on our team that was a finalist for that award, and certainly has won it before and I think will continue to be that someone who every year will be in contention for that award," Snyder continued. "But congratulations to Marcus and everything he’s done. Maybe Rudy will win Defensive Player of the Playoffs."

While Gobert has yet to be asked about Smart's DPOY victory, he made his stance very clear earlier this month.

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"If anybody else not named Rudy Gobert was doing what I do this year and having the impact that I’m having this year, they would be the frontrunner and it would be clear. So, why not?" Gobert told ESPN's Malika Andrews about why he should win the award. "If I’m being consistent, why should I penalized for being consistent year after year?"

We get where Gobert is coming from, but Smart's recognition is well-deserved -- and a long time coming. The eighth-year guard is the defensive leader of the best defensive team in basketball and can lock down all five positions on the court. Smart's versatility and tenacity on defense -- in addition to Boston's incredible success on the defensive end -- helped earn him the nod over Gobert, whose Jazz ranked 10th in the NBA in points allowed per game this season.

Gobert may win another DPOY award in the future, but this one belongs to Smart, who earned it and then some.

Note: Games 2-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on NBCSportsBoston.com or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.

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