NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2015 – Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, the 2015 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung, headlines the 2015 WNBA All-Defensive Team, the WNBA announced today. This marks the second consecutive All-Defensive First Team appearance for Griner, who this season became the first player to be named Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons since the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings (2009, 2010).
Griner collected 11 First Team votes (55 points) from a panel of the WNBA’s 12 head coaches, who selected First and Second Teams by position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own teams. Players earned five points for each First Team vote and three points for each Second Team vote.
Joining Griner on the WNBA All-Defensive First Team are Indiana teammates Catchings at forward (51 points) and Briann January at guard (42 points), Atlanta Dream guard Angel McCoughtry (39 points), and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (18 points).
Griner averaged a WNBA-record 4.04 blocks per game this season, improving on her league-leading 3.79 blocks from 2014. She recorded five or more blocks in 11 of her 26 games, including a WNBA season high of nine rejections on Aug. 30 against the Minnesota Lynx. The three-time All-Star selection ranked second in the league in defensive rebounding (6.42 per game) and anchored a Phoenix defense that finished fourth in the league in points allowed (72.3 ppg).
Catchings added another honor to a 14-year playing career that includes a record five WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards. This is the 10th All-Defensive First Team nod for Catchings, who was recognized nine straight times from 2005 to 2013 before being picked for the Second Team last season. Catchings, the WNBA’s career steals leader, ranked fifth in the league in steals (1.83) and eighth in defensive rebounds (5.4) this season.
January, a four-time All-Defensive Team selection, was named to the First Team in 2012 and 2014 and to the Second Team in 2013. The seven-year pro contributed 1.03 steals per game and recorded six multi-steal games in 2015.
For McCoughtry, the All-Defensive Team nod is her sixth overall and fifth to the First Team. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm placed second in the WNBA in steals (2.12) this season and recorded three or more 14 times.
Ogwumike, the 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year presented by Samsung, makes her first appearance on the All-Defensive Team. The three-time All-Star recorded 25 steals in 23 games and averaged a career-high 5.2 defensive rebounds per game.
The WNBA All-Defensive Second Team includes three New York Liberty teammates: rookie Kiah Stokes (center, 36 points); Tanisha Wright, a five-time All-Defensive First Team pick (guard, 25 points); and Tina Charles, who earns her third selection to the All-Defensive Second Team (forward, 14 points). Rounding out the Second Team are Phoenix’s DeWanna Bonner (guard, 24 points) and Atlanta’s Sancho Lyttle, who was previously named to the First Team twice and to the Second Team three times (forward, 17 points).
Stokes, Wright, and Charles led a defense that limited opponents to a league-low 71.1 points per game. Stokes ranked fourth in the league with 1.97 blocks, Wright (28 steals) had her ninth consecutive season with 25 or more steals, and Charles collected 24 steals and 23 blocks.
Bonner’s defensive presence (1.33 spg, .85 bpg) helped the Mercury to the Western Conference’s second-best record (20-14). The Dream’s Lyttle led the league with 2.25 steals and ranked seventh in defensive rebounding (5.5).