The league formally announced on Tuesday that Los Angeles Sparks guard/forward Alana Beard has been named the 2017 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Beard takes home the award for the first time since entering the league in 2004. Lisa Leslie — who accomplished the feat twice (2004, 2008) — is the only other member of the Sparks to win the Defensive Player of the Year.
Beard was a pest for opponents during the regular season, evident by posting 2.09 steals per contest. She’s helped the Sparks tally 9.29 steals per game while forcing 16.4 turnovers. The veteran guard/forward earned 28 out of 40 pledges by those who vote. Beard joins Sylvia Fowles, Nneka Ogwumike, Jasmine Thomas and Tina Charles on the All-Defensive First Team.
Drafted in 2004, Beard was the No. 2 overall pick, behind only Diana Taurasi. Beard played her collegiate basketball at Duke, where she set a program record with 2,687 points. She’s a four-time All-Star and took home the honors in three consecutive seasons from 2005-07. She helped pilot the Sparks to a WNBA title a season ago.
Beard originally began her career with the Washington Mystics, the club that drafted her. She signed with the Sparks in free agency in 2012. She has played in 30 or more games in 11 of the 12 seasons she has participated in. She also averaged double-digit points per game in each of her first seven seasons in the league.
Beard and the club received a double bye in the playoffs and will face off against the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday evening for the first of a five-game series.