Marcus Smart Wins 2018-19 NBA Hustle Award
By Brian Martin
For the third straight season, the NBA presents the Hustle Award to honor the player that does all the little things to help his team win on a nightly basis. The 2018-19 winner is Celtics guard Marcus Smart, a player that exemplifies what hustle, energy and effort are all about:
- Diving on the floor for loose balls
- Sacrificing your body by taking charges
- Getting a hand in the passing lane to cause deflections
- Closing out on shooters to contest shots
- Setting solid screens that lead directly to made baskets for teammates
- Boxing out on both ends of the court to secure rebounds
Smart received the honor at the third annual NBA Awards show on Monday night in Los Angeles as the league comes together to celebrate the top players, performances and moments from the past season.
This is the second end of season honor for Smart this year, as he was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the first time in his career. Smart’s outstanding defense goes hand-in-hand with the hustle he shows every time he steps on the court.
Similar to the two previous Hustle Award winners – Patrick Beverley in 2017 and Amir Johnson in 2018 - Smart's per game stats don't jump off the page: 8.9 points 2.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.4 blocks. But Smart’s impact on the game goes well beyond his traditional statistical averages.
The NBA’s addition of Hustle Stats brings tangible numbers to the type of plays that are critical to team success, but don’t appear in a standard box score at the end of each game.
Hustle Stats debuted in the 2016 NBA Playoffs and have continued to evolve over the past two seasons with the addition of Box Outs during the 2017-18 season and derived hustle stat metrics (i.e. screen assist points, percentage of team rebounds on box outs) in 2018-19.
Marcus Smart’s Hustle Stats and Rankings (Per Minute)
|Hustle Stat||Per 1 Minute||Rank (Overall)||Rank (Guards)|
|Offensive Box Outs||0.016||43rd||1st|
|Defensive Box Outs||0.077||61st||2nd|
|Loose Balls Recovered||0.038||50th||28th|
On a per minute basis, Smart ranks in the top six among guards in Deflections (1st), Offensive Box Outs (1st), Defensive Box Outs (2nd), Charges Drawn (6th) and Contested Shots (6th). His Deflections rank 3rd overall – which helped him finish sixth in the league in Steals this past season – and he also rankings in the top 20 among all players in Charges Drawn (13th) and Points Per Screen Assist (17th).
Smart is regularly tasked with defending the opponent’s top offensive threat and has shown the ability to defend every position on the floor. And what the 6-4 guard lacks in height he makes up for with grit, energy and determination. He is strong enough to defend in the post and battle for rebounding position, quick enough to play the passing lanes and rack up deflections and steals, and if there is a loose ball to be had, its guaranteed that No. 36 in Celtics green will do whatever it takes to recover it and earn another possession for his team.