Sparks’ Alana Beard named 2017 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year

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:



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



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


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