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Marcus Smart victim of bias in DPOY voting

Don't expect Celtics guard, Marcus Smart, to seriously compete for the NBA Defensive-Player-of-the-Year Award this season. He has too much against him in the form of bias from several sources. Defensive guards stand little chance to walk away with this trophy, but that has not always been the case.

The DPOY Award has been given out since the 1982-83 season, and five of the six initial winners played the guard position:

1983: Sidney Moncrief (guard)
1984: Sidney Moncrief (guard)
1985: Mark Eaton (center)
1986: Alvin Robertson (guard)
1987: Michael Cooper (guard/forward)
1988: Michael Jordan (guard)


It has been all centers (23) and forwards(7), with the one exception being Gary Payton (guard) winning the trophy in 1996. The numbers clearly show why Smart stands little chance of ever seeing the DPOY Trophy in his home.

So where does the bias come in. Well, first of all, there is obvious prejudice here directed at the "little guy". While other NBA awards such as MVP and MIP can rely heavily on statistics - not so much with DPOY. Blocked shots and rebounds play a huge role, and that favors the bigs. Beyond that, the Defensive-Player-of-the-Year worthiness can be difficult to define.

Let me state emphatically that the DPOY award should not be determined by the sportswriters and broadcasters, and that has been the case from the start. Sports media abounds with fair-minded professionals, but not all share this trait. Let the coaches decide the DPOY winner. NBA coaches are immersed in forming strategies to minimize the effects of the defensive stalwarts on opposing teams.


To make my point, four different times prior to 2014 the DPOY was NOT voted to the NBA All-Defensive FIRST Team. Why? Because before 2014, the coaches voted for the All-Defensive Teams while the media voted for the DPOY. Robertson, Dikembe Mutombo, Tyson Chandler and Eaton are the quartet that were voted DPOY but relegated to Second Team All-Defense. This should never happen.

One more point. Call it envy or call it bias, but having followed the Celtics and NBA for 60-plus years, The Green are victims of "winner envy". A total of 17 Championships since 1957 can cause that. Red Auerbach made many deals (heists?) in the form of drafts and trades, and Danny Ainge has a few to his credit. There have to be feelings out there maybe the Celtics have racked up too many awards over the years.


So don't expect Marcus to walk away this season with accolades as the best defensive NBA player. The award will go to a strong interior defender with size, possibly Giannis Antetokounmpo or Rudy Gobert. But let me add that at 6'3", Smart covers both the interior and perimeter very effectively. He can elevate to block any opponent's shots. His weight and strength give him a solid, low center of gravity to handle the bigs down low. And on the perimter, he switches so fast, at times he is effectively guarding two opponents at the same time. There's my argument.

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