Last week, the AP announced its recipients for this Year’s award. Las Vegas Aces’ forward A’ja Wilson earned The Associated Press WNBA Player of the Year honors.
Sparks forward, Candace Parker took home the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award, edging out Alyssa Thomas and Alysha Clark. In contrast, Minnesota Lynx Crystal Dangerfield took home the Rookie of the Year Award, and Cheryl Reeve won Coach of the Year honors.
Other award winners include Las Vegas’ Dearica Hamby, who repeated as the sixth woman of the Year, Stewart as Comeback Player of the Year, and Atlanta’s Betnijah Laney as the most improved player.
Over the last couple of months, Seattle Storm players have been lobbying for Alysha Clark to be named this Year’s Defensive Player of the Year. Instead, Clark draws the opposing team’s best player.
After the Storm beat the Phoenix Mercury back on August 8, Diana Taurasi dubbed her the best defender in the league.
“[Alysha Clark] is probably the best defender in this league,” Taurasi said during an August 8 matchup between the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury. “She’s strong. She’s physical. It’s like having a little bodyguard wherever I go.”
During her post-game press conference earlier this month, Clark’s teammate Jewell Loyd shared why Clark should be the award winner.
“When she is motivated when we get defensive stops, that pushes our offensive, we’re able to run in transition, we’re able to push, move the ball and find each other for open threes. Make sure the media know that AC should be the Defensive Player of the Year. She has been doing this all Year, and it is a shame people don’t talk about her enough.”
Storm’s coach Gary Kloppenburg agrees with Loyd.
“She’s the best defensive player in the league this year just because of the consistency all year,” head coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “When she’s guarding those players from Taurasi to [Arike] Ogunbowale to Kelsey Mitchell, every team, she’s getting that assignment, and she does a tremendous job of individually making life very difficult for them.”
Last Tuesday, when the AP awards were announced, I tweeted that Clark’s game reminded me of the Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson. The two are asked to guard the other team’s best players and can light it up on the offensive side of the ball when called upon.
Clark likes the comparison to Thompson.
On Saturday afternoon, I spoke with Clark about the Thompson comparison and why she prides herself on the defensive end.
“Well, thank you for the comparison. Klay Thompson is a great player, he is an intelligent player, and he does a lot of the little things. He is efficient and productive, which I pride myself on. Clark was just able to move without the ball and a versatile player, not just a one-way player.
“On the defensive end that came because I had to find my way in this league. I had to find a way to stick. Everybody can score, and that was something coming out of college that I was very confident in, but everyone can do that at this level. So, have to find something else that you can bring, and for me, that is where I started focusing on defense.”
The Seattle Storm begins their Semi-Finals series against the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday at 2 pm Est. As for Clark, she most likely will see a lot of time guarding Damiris Dantas, Odyssey Sims, and Crystal Dangerfield during this best of three series.