Brittney Griner Named Defensive Player of the Year
PHOENIX – After the most prolific shot-blocking season in WNBA history, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner today was named the 2014 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung, the league announced. Griner set WNBA records this season for blocks in a season (129) and blocks in single-game (11). Griner becomes the first Defensive Player of the Year winner in the Mercury’s 18-year history.
The 6-foot-8 center’s dominant 2014 regular season featured more total blocked shots than eight of the other 11 teams in the WNBA, and 72 blocked shots—or over 2.00 per game—more than Chicago Sky forward Jessica Breland, who finished second in the league in blocks. Former Utah Starzz center Margo Dydek blocked 114 shots in 1998, a league record that stood for 16 seasons until Griner broke it in just 28 games in 2014 (Dydek’s record was set in 30 games).
Twenty-seven times in 34 games this season, Griner equaled or surpassed the blocked-shot total of the entering opposing team, and tallied a WNBA-record tying six games of six blocked shots or more (Dydek). For the second time in as many professional seasons, Griner led the league in blocks, averaging 3.79 blocks for the season. She now owns a career average of 3.44 blocks per game.
Griner’s imposing presence in the paint helped the Mercury’s transformation into the league’s stingiest field goal defense and second-best scoring defense. Despite a pace and efficiency that enabled Phoenix to lead the league in both scoring (83.5 points) and shooting (WNBA-record 48.4 percent), the Mercury and Griner surrendered just 74.1 points, the franchise’s lowest total by more than 5.0 points since the league went to a 24-second shot clock in 2006. Mercury opponents shot just 40.9 percent this season, the lowest in the league and the franchise’s lowest since the 2007 WNBA Champion Mercury (40.7 percent).
Griner and the Mercury begin their best-of-three Western Conference Semifinal series against the Los Angeles Sparks tonight at 7 p.m. at US Airways Center. Tickets for Game 1 of the Mercury’s opening round series are on sale now starting at just $17 and can be purchased at PhoenixMercury.com, the US Airways Center ticket office or by phone at 602-252-WNBA.