2022-23 NBA Awards

Boston’s Marcus Smart wins 2022-23 NBA Hustle Award

Boston's defensive-minded guard becomes the 1st player to win back-to-back NBA Hustle Awards and collects his 3rd career Hustle honor.

For the 2nd consecutive season, Marcus Smart is the winner of the NBA’s Hustle Award.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been named the winner of the 2022-23 NBA Hustle Award, the league announced on Wednesday. Smart becomes the first player to win the award in consecutive seasons and earns the honor for the third time since its debut in 2016-17.

NBA Hustle Award winners
Year Winner Team
2022-23 Marcus Smart Boston Celtics
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 NBA Hustle Award rewards players that make the effort plays that don’t often appear in the traditional box score but impact winning on a nightly basis. Hustle stats — including deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn, screen assists, contested shots and box-outs — have been tracked by the NBA since the 2016 postseason and can be viewed on an individual and team level on NBA.com/Stats.

Marcus Smart’s hustle stats and rankings
Category Per Game Rank Per Minute Rank
Charges Drawn 0.18 10 0.0056 13
Loose Balls Recovered 0.8 14 0.0235 30
Deflections 2.6 16 0.0802 18
Box Outs 1.0 31 0.0317 30
Screen Assists 0.8 37 0.0250 41
Contested Shots 4.2 98 0.1293 107

Note: Rankings among the 147 eligible players that played a minimum of 58 games (70% of team total of 82) and at least 24 minutes per game. Hustle Stats are measured on a per-minute basis to even the comparison among players that play varying amounts of minutes per game.

As the rankings illustrate, Smart showcases hustle in every aspect of the game. The 2021-22 Kia Defensive Player of the Year, Smart doesn’t hesitate to dive on the floor for a loose ball and securing those 50-50 balls are a key component to earning more possessions. Smart finished 14th in loose balls recovered per game this season.

He’s ready to step in front of a player driving full speed toward the basket and sacrifice his body to take a charge. The charge not only earns his team a possession, it counts as a turnover for the opposing team and a personal foul for the charging player. Smart finished 10th in charges drawn per game, taking 11 total charges drawn in 61 games played.

The same court vision and instincts that allow Smart to beat an opponent to the spot and draw a charge also help him read passing lanes and disrupt opposing offenses with deflections. Smart ranked 16th in deflections (2.6 per game) and 10th in steals (1.5 per game) this season. Smart’s hustle on the defensive end of the court helped the Celtics finish the regular season ranked second in defensive efficiency, allowing 110.6 points per 100 possessions.

This season, Marcus Smart ranked 14th in the NBA in loose balls recovered.

Smart doesn’t just excel in hustle plays usually dominated by guards — he’s also ready to mix it up with the big men to battle for rebound position. Smart ranked 31st overall and first among guards in box outs per game as the Celtics secured the rebound on 96.5% of Smart’s box outs (even though Smart only secured the rebound 19.3% of the time on his box outs). The willingness to clear space in order for a teammate to secure a rebound for the team is a perfect example of a hustle play.

Another hustle stat usually dominated by centers and power forwards are screen assists: screens that lead directly to a made shot by a teammate. Smart ranked 37th overall and second among guards (trailing only teammate Jayson Tatum) in screen assists per game. Smart uses all of his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to help free up his teammates for open looks, helping Boston finish tied for fourth in efficiency in pick-and-roll ball handler plays at 0.96 points per possession.

In his ninth NBA season, Smart finished the regular season with averages of 11.5 points, a career-best 6.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per game and a career-best six double-doubles. But those numbers don’t come close to measuring Smart’s impact on the game for the Celtics.

His energy plays, the sacrifices he makes for his teammates, the all-out effort in which he competes may not appear in the traditional box score. But those plays were key to Boston finishing with the second-best record in the NBA (57-25) and helped Smart earn his third career NBA Hustle Award.

2022-23 Hustle Award Top Five Finishers
Finish Player Team Position
1 Marcus Smart Boston Guard
2 Draymond Green Golden State Forward
3 Aaron Nesmith Indiana Guard/Forward
4 Mitchell Robinson New York Center/Forward
5 Herbert Jones New Orleans Forward