NEW YORK – Los Angeles Sparks guard/forward Alana Beard has been named the 2017 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the WNBA announced today. 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 against 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.
Below are the voting results for the 2017 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award and a list of past recipients:
2017 WNBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR VOTING RESULTS
Player Team Votes
Alana Beard Los Angeles Sparks 28
Sylvia Fowles Minnesota Lynx 5
Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury 4
Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks 2
Alyssa Thomas Connecticut Sun 1
ALL-TIME WNBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
Year Player Team
2017 Alana Beard Los Angeles Sparks
2016 Sylvia Fowles Minnesota Lynx
2015 Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury
2014 Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury
2013 Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky
2012 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2011 Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky
2010 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2009 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2008 Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks
2007 Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm
2006 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2005 Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
2004 Lisa Leslie Los Angeles Sparks
2003 Sheryl Swoopes Houston Comets
2002 Sheryl Swoopes Houston Comets
2001 Debbie Black Miami Sol
2000 Sheryl Swoopes Houston Comets
1999 Yolanda Griffith Sacramento Monarchs
1998 Teresa Weatherspoon New York Liberty
1997 Teresa Weatherspoon New York Liberty
About the WNBA
The WNBA – which features 12 teams and is the most successful women’s professional team sports league in the world – is a unique global sports property combining competition, sportsmanship, and entertainment value with its status as an icon for social change, achievement, and diversity. The league, which counts Verizon as its leaguewide marquee partner, concluded its 21st regular season on Sept. 3, 2017.
Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women’s health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education. For more information on the WNBA, log on to www.wnba.com.