Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard has been named the 2019 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the WNBA announced today. Howard has earned the honor for the first time and become the second winner for the Storm, joining Lauren Jackson (2007).
Howard received 33 votes from a national panel of 43 sportswriters and broadcasters. Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks finished second with three votes. Three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun tied for third with two votes each. Seattle’s Alysha Clark, the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner and the Atlanta Dream’s Elizabeth Williams tied for fourth with one vote each.
Howard and the sixth-seeded Storm host Fowles and the seventh-seeded Lynx in a first-round, single-elimination playoff game tonight at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
In her sixth season, Howard led the WNBA with 74 total steals and finished second with a career-high 2.18 steals per game, just behind Storm teammate Jordin Canada (2.27 spg). Howard ranked third in the WNBA in both total blocked shots (59) and blocks per game (1.74 bpg). She also averaged a career-high 5.5 defensive rebounds per game, the 11th-highest total in the league.
The Storm gave up only 92.3 points per 100 possessions with Howard on the court compared with 104.0 points per 100 possessions with her off the court – a difference of 11.7 points. Overall, Seattle ranked fourth in the WNBA in defensive rating, allowing 96.4 points per 100 possessions.
A first-time All-Star this season, Howard averaged career highs of 18.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 34 games. Last season, Howard was named the WNBA Most Improved Player and selected to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team as she helped the Storm win the WNBA title.
Before joining Seattle in 2018, Howard played two seasons each with the Lynx and the Indiana Fever. She was part of Minnesota’s championship-winning team in 2017.
In honor of being named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, Howard will receive $5,000 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.
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