September 26, 2021 

Sylvia Fowles named Defensive Player of the Year

Lynx center adds another accolade to legendary career

Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles was named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), the league announced today. The two-time WNBA champion has now won the award four times (2011, 2013, 2016, 2021). She joins Tamika Catchings (five DPOY awards) as the only two players in history to win the award four or more times.

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During this season, her 14th in the WNBA; Fowles was the only player in the league to average at least 1.50 steals and 1.50 blocks per game. She pulled down at least 10 rebounds in a game a remarkable eight times. She also had five games with at least four steals and four games with at least four blocks.

Fowles, who turns 36 next week, is an accomplished veteran in the WNBA and a legend in women’s basketball. Earlier this year, she won her fourth Olympic gold medal. She also surpassed former teammate and current assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson as the league’s all-time leading rebounder. The 2017 MVP and two-time WNBA Finals MVP (2015 and 2017) also leads the league in all-time rebounds per game (9.8) and field goal percentage (59.7). Earlier this summer, Fowles was named to the W25, the list of the greatest and most influential players in league history.

When asked about the significance of the recognition by The Next‘s Jenn Hatfield during a media availability today, Fowles responded in typical “Sweet Syl” fashion.

“I know when I play well defensively, everything else falls into place for me. And to be recognized among those greats, I think it’s something that’s surreal.” Fowles said, “I’m sure when I have time to like sit down and soak it in, I probably will think about it a little bit more and how much it means to me. But for the time being, I’m just trying to do the job of what my coaches and my teammates ask me at the time.”

2021 WNBA All-Defensive Teams

A national panel of broadcasters and sportswriters cast votes for this year’s DPOY award. Fowles received votes from 31 members of the 49-member panel. Other vote-getters were Brittney Sykes (six votes), Jonquel Jones and Brianna Turner (four votes each), Brittney Griner (2 votes), Briann January and Jasmine Thomas (one vote each). Jones, Turner, Fowles, Sykes and January were named by the league as the 2021 WNBA All-Defensive First Team. The All-Defensive Team includes two guards, two forwards and one center.

The WNBA also announced the 2021 WNBA All-Defensive Second Team which includes Breanna Stewart, Brionna Jones, Brittney Griner, Jasmine Thomas and Ariel Atkins. Washington Mystics general manager and head coach Mike Thibault took to Twitter to express his opinion about the omission of Mystics guard Natasha Cloud from the All-Defensive Teams.

Fowles is looking to continue her defensive dominance to lead Minnesota to a WNBA-record fifth championship this season. The Lynx will tip off their playoff bid this evening at 5 p.m. E.T. on ESPN2 in a single-elimination, second-round game against the Chicago Sky.

Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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