2021-22 NBA Awards

Boston’s Marcus Smart wins 2021-22 NBA Hustle Award

Smart becomes the first player to win the award multiple times since its debut in 2016-17.

Smart wins the NBA Hustle Award for the second time in four seasons.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been named the winner of the 2021-22 NBA Hustle Award, the league announced today. Smart becomes the first two-time winner of the Hustle Award after first earning the honor following the 2018-19 season.

NBA Hustle Award Winners

Year Winner Team
2021-22 Marcus Smart Boston Celtics
2020-21 Thaddeus Young Chicago Bulls
2019-20 Montrezl Harrell LA Clippers
2018-19 Marcus Smart Boston Celtics
2017-18 Amir Johnson Philadelphia 76ers
2016-17 Patrick Beverley Houston Rockets

The Hustle Award, which debuted in 2016-17, rewards players that do the little things that don’t often show up in the traditional box score but have been tracked since the NBA debuted its Hustle Stats during the 2016 postseason. Hustle stats include deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn, screen assists, contested shots and box-outs.

Marcus Smart’s Hustle Stats and Rankings

Hustle Stat Per 1 Minute Rank
Charges Drawn 0.007 7th
Deflections 0.090 12th
Defensive Loose Balls Recovered 0.017 10th
Offensive Loose Balls Recovered 0.015 21st
Defensive Box Outs 0.044 25th
Offensive Box Outs 0.001 68th
Screen Assists 0.017 56th
Contested 2PT Shots 0.071 99th
Contested 3PT Shots 0.090 48th

Note: Rankings among the 139 eligible players that played a minimum of 58 games (70% of team total of 82) and at least 24 minutes per game.

Smart ranked seventh in the league in charges drawn on a per-minute basis and finished in the top 25 in five different hustle categories. All hustle stats are measured on a per-minute basis as to even the comparison among players that play varying amounts of minutes per game.

Smart finished in the top 10 in loose balls recovered, charges drawn and deflections.

Not every player will dive on the court for a loose ball – Smart finished tied for fourth with 75 loose balls recovered this season. Not every player will stand in front of an opponent driving to the hoop to take a charge – Smart finished tied for 10th with 16 charges drawn in the regular season and leads all players in the playoffs with eight charges drawn in 12 games.

Not every player has the instincts and awareness to play the passing lanes and disrupt the opposing team’s offense with deflections – Smart finished tied for 10th with 206 deflections this season. Not every guard wants to mix it up with power forwards and centers to fight for rebounding position – Smart led all guards with 104 boxouts and finished with a career-best 3.2 defensive rebounds per game this season.

Smart’s hustle mentality and effort helped him become the first guard since Gary Payton in 1995-96 to be named Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He helped the Celtics lead the NBA in defensive rating (106.2), points allowed per game (104.5), field goal percentage allowed (43.4%) and 3-point percentage allowed (33.9%).

The eight-year veteran finished the regular season with averages of 12.1 points, a career-high 5.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals (7th in NBA) and 0.3 blocks in the traditional box score stats. But Smart’s true impact can’t be fully measured without including his hustle stats, his energy plays that can turn the tide of a game without appearing in the traditional box score, plays that set a tone of effort and desire to win that can be felt by teammates, opponents and fans alike.

2021-22 Hustle Award Top Five Finishers

Rank Player Team Position
1 Marcus Smart Boston G
2 Pat Connaughton Milwaukee G
3 Bruce Brown Brooklyn G/F
4 Bobby Portis Milwaukee F
5 Isaiah Stewart Detroit F/C