The Los Angeles Sparks have re-signed 2017 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard.
More from High Post Hoops
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 15: Who will step up in the postseason?
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 14: Mystics are going dancing
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 11: Sparks fly as Mystics upset LA
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 10: Dream are (mathematically) stayin’ alive
- Your Day in Women’s Basketball, September 9: Battle for the two-seed rages on
Beard, an unrestricted free agent, has spent her past six seasons with the Sparks after beginning her career with the Washington Mystics. Beard was a four-time All-Star in Washington, and has been an All-Defense selection six times in her career.
“Alana is coming off an incredible 2017 season where she was named the WNBA Defensive Player of the year,” said Penny Toler, executive vice president and general manager of the Sparks in Tuesday’s release. “I don’t have enough great adjectives to describe Alana. Her leadership on and off the court is a key ingredient to our team success. She brings 100 percent effort to practice, games, and anything she does. It’s truly been an honor to work with such a classy player.”
Beard led the WNBA in steals in 2017, averaging nearly 2.1 per game. She was joined by teammate Nneka Ogwumike on the WNBA’s All-Defense team. Beard started every game for the Sparks, logging 31 minutes per game while shooting 49.7% from the field in the regular season.
“I am grateful for another opportunity to play the game I love and play alongside a special group of women,” said Beard.
The Sparks have re-signed restricted free agent guard Odyssey Sims. Los Angeles also announced the signings of Ana Dabovic, member of the Sparks’ 2016 championship team, and Karlie Samuelson last week.
The Sparks have posted a 26-8 record in consecutive seasons, earning a double bye into the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs as the second overall seed both times. The Sparks swept the Phoenix Mercury in a best-of-five semifinal series to advance to the WNBA Finals, where they met the Minnesota Lynx once again.
The Sparks closed out the Finals in Minnesota in 2016, but the Lynx were able to prevail in 2017 to capture yet another championship. The Sparks missed an opportunity to close out the 2017 WNBA Finals at home in Game 4. Just as in 2016, the 2017 Finals came down to the final minute on Minnesota’s home floor.