2017 WNBA Awards

2017 WNBA Awards
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 Los Angeles Sparks guard/forward Alana Beard has been named the 2017 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year

Alana Beard (l) WNBA Defensive Player of the Year

Beard earned the honor for the first time in her 12-year career and became the second Sparks player to win the award, joining Lisa Leslie (2004, 2008).

Beard received 28 votes from a national panel of 40 sportswriters and broadcasters.  Three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx finished second with five votes, while two-time winner Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury was third with four votes.  Sparks forward Candace Parker earned two votes and Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas received one vote.

Beard led the WNBA in steals for the first time, averaging 2.09 per game while starting all 34 of Los Angeles’ games.  Behind Beard, the Sparks paced the WNBA in steals (9.29 SPG) and opponents’ turnovers per game (16.4).  They also ranked second in defensive rating (96.0 points per 100 possessions) and points allowed (75.2 ppg).

On Aug. 18, the four-time All-Star had a season-high seven defensive rebounds to go with a season-high-tying five steals in a 115-106 double-overtime road win against the Chicago Sky.  Beard also had five steals in a 78-68 home victory over the Seattle Storm on May 13, the opening day of the WNBA season. 

Also this season, Beard averaged 6.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists and shot a career-best 49.7 percent from the field.  Her contributions helped the defending champion Sparks (26-8) finish with the third-most victories in franchise history and earn a double bye as the No. 2 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2017 presented by Verizon.  Los Angeles opens its postseason tonight against Phoenix in Game 1 of the Semifinals (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Beard has been selected to the WNBA All-Defensive Team seven times.  The former Duke star was the second overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft and played six seasons for the Washington Mystics before joining the Sparks in 2012.  She ranks fourth on the WNBA’s all-time steals list with 654, the most among active players. 

In honor of being named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, Beard will receive $5,000 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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