NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2017 – Los Angeles Sparks guard/forward Alana Beard, this season’s WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, leads the 2017 WNBA All-Defensive Team, the WNBA announced today. This marks the fourth All-Defensive First Team selection for Beard, who became the second Sparks player to win Defensive Player of the Year (Lisa Leslie, 2004 and 2008).
Beard received 11 First Team votes (55 points) from a panel of the WNBA’s head coaches, making her the only unanimous pick. The 12 coaches selected First and Second Teams by position and were not permitted to vote for players from their own teams. Players earned five points for each First Team vote and three points for each Second Team vote.
Joining Beard on the WNBA All-Defensive First Team are Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (49 points), Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles (49 points), Connecticut Sun guard Jasmine Thomas (49 points) and New York Liberty forward Tina Charles (22 points).
Charles, who was a 2nd Team All-Defensive honoree in 2015, earns 1st Team honors for the 1st time in her career and becomes just the 2nd player in franchise history to become 1st Team All-Defensive (Cappie Pondexter, 2010). Charles helped anchor a Liberty defensive unit that led the league in defensive field goal percentage (.408) and defensive rebounds. Charles finished the year ranked 2nd in the WNBA with 249 defensive rebounds.
The WNBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (41 points), Connecticut forward Alyssa Thomas (21 points), Minnesota’s Rebekkah Brunson (20 points) at forward and Maya Moore (16 points) at guard, and Indiana Fever guard Briann January (13 points).
Beard led the WNBA in steals for the first time, averaging 2.09 per game while starting all 34 of Los Angeles’ games. In addition to her four All-Defensive First Team selections, Beard has four Second Team nods.
Ogwumike makes her third straight appearance on the All-Defensive First Team. The 2016 WNBA MVP ranked third in the league in steals with 1.85 per game and tied for eighth in defensive rebounds with 5.9. Behind Beard and Ogwumike, the Sparks were second in defensive rating (96.0 points per 100 possessions) and points allowed (75.2 ppg).
For Fowles, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, the All-Defensive appearance is her eighth overall and sixth on the First Team. She tied for second in the league in blocks with 1.97 per game, ranked fifth in defensive rebounds with 6.8 and contributed 1.29 steals. The four-time All-Star selection anchored a Minnesota defense that led the WNBA in defensive rating (94.1) and points allowed (74.2 ppg).
Jasmine Thomas made the All-Defensive First Team for the first time in her seven-year career after appearing as a Second Team selection for the first time last season. The 2017 All-Star averaged a career-high 1.59 steals (fourth in the WNBA), including a season-high five steals in three straight games from July 8-13.
The WNBA All-Defensive Second Team features Griner, a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. The four-time All-Star selection led the WNBA in blocks (2.5 bpg) for the fifth consecutive season.
Alyssa Thomas, an All-Star for the first time this season, was named to the All-Defensive Team for the first time. The Sun forward averaged career highs with 5.4 defensive rebounds and 1.5 steals, and she set single-game bests in defensive rebounds (13), steals (seven) and blocks (four).
Brunson added another honor to a 14-year career that includes four WNBA titles. This is the fifth All-Defensive Second Team nod for Brunson, who has one First Team selection. Brunson is the WNBA’s all-time leader in offensive rebounds (1,129) and has the fourth-most defensive rebounds (2,058).
Moore, the 2014 MVP, was named to the Second Team for the second time in her career. The three-time WNBA champion tied a career high with 1.88 steals (second in the league).
January has been chosen to the All-Defensive Team six times in eight seasons, all spent with the Fever. This is her second time on the Second Team to go with four First Team honors.