Los Angeles Sparks guard/forward Alana Beard has been named the 2017 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the WNBA announced on Tuesday. 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 August 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 open their postseason tonight against Phoenix in Game 1 of the semifinals (10pm 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
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)
By WNBA News
First appeared on WNBA.com