If Marcus Smart is campaigning for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, he got a pair of big donations Wednesday night.
The Boston Celtics guard was all over the place against the Los Angeles Clippers, playing strong defense on All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Smart's effort caught the eye of former Celtics big man and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins, who dropped this endorsement late in the first half:
We just might be watching this year DPOY, Marcus Smart!!! 🤷🏾♂️— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) November 21, 2019
Smart saved his best work for overtime, though, completing an incredible steal-and-save on Leonard to give the Celtics an extra possession.
What. A. Play. pic.twitter.com/NO6oR7eEux— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 21, 2019
The C's couldn't capitalize on Smart's hustle and lost 107-104. But the 26-year-old guard earned a similar endorsement from another former Celtic in Isaiah Thomas.
Marcus Smart DPOY— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) November 21, 2019
We're sensing a trend here. Perkins' stance didn't change, either, as he credited Smart again for his work on Leonard, who finished with a relatively quiet 17 points and was a minus-2 on the night.
Great minds think a like ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) November 21, 2019
Credit Marcus Smart for that my G!!! He was in Kawhi back pocket all night— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) November 21, 2019
The NBA Defensive Player of Year award traditionally goes to big men -- Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green have won the last three awards -- and hasn't gone to a guard since Gary Payton in 1996.
But as NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg explained in his latest mailbag, the 6-foot-3 Smart is playing like a big man by locking up opposing power forwards and centers.
The Celtics only have played 14 games, and Smart still is a long shot to win DPOY. (He wasn't even listed on the preseason odds to win the award.) But the Celtics guard might be the people's choice.
Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.