by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
BRANDENTON, FL — While the Los Angeles Sparks prep for their second round, single-elimination playoff game against the Connecticut Sun, they were able to honor one of their own with a prestigious honor.
Sparks forward Candace Parker was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year while also being named to the AP’s All-WNBA First Team. Like a fine wine, Parker continues to get better with age.
In her 13th season, she led the league in rebounds for the third time in her career averaging 9.7 boards a game and had 10 double-doubles, which was tied for first in the WNBA, while averaging 14.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. She was also fifth in total blocks with 27, and finished third in defensive win shares and fourth in defensive rating.
Not to mention she’s embraced the challenges of guarding the other team’s best player at that position, whether it is A’ja Wilson or Breanna Stewart.
Parker simply did it all for L.A. during the regular season being that ‘spark’ on both ends of the floor every night. This is just another accolade in a career that’s full of them including two WNBA MVPs, Rookie of the Year, a WNBA championship, and a Finals MVP, just to name a few.
However, to win an award like this, this far in her career has a different meaning for her.
“When I made the decision to come to IMG this season, my focus was on working hard every day to help put our team in a position to win a championship,” Parker said. “For us that starts with defending at a high level and closing defensive possessions with a rebound. Overall our team has been able to do that.
“I’m honored to be recognized for my role on that end of the floor,” Parker continued. “The award is a testament to my teammates executing on defense and our entire coaching staff.
Parker and the Sparks will now have to shift their focus to pursuing a championship and facing the Sun, who swept L.A. 3-0 in last year’s semifinals. Parker will have her hands full defending talented forwards like Alyssa Thomas or DeWanna Bonner.