Making the Case: Alysha Clark for Defensive Player of the Year

Diana Taurasi commands a lot of respect in the WNBA. The league’s all-time leading scorer and perennial All-Star is one of the most respected, well-esteemed, and most listened to players in the entire world.

So why stop listening to her now?

“[Alysha Clark] is probably the best defender in this league,” Taurasi said during an Aug. 8 matchup between the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury. “She’s strong.  She’s physical. It’s like having a little bodyguard wherever I go.”

Alysha Clark is the premier defender in the WNBA. The league’s all-time best scorer said it herself. But Clark doesn’t just need a rival’s endorsement.

Though she often doesn’t show up large in the stat sheet, her impact can be felt in the opposing team’s box score. As of Aug. 8, Clark leads the WNBA in total plus/minus, with the Storm outscoring opponents by a whopping 219 points while she is on the floor this season. That number is tops in the league, by a wide margin. The next closest non-teammate is Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson, at plus-150.

Among players that see the court for over 25 minutes per game, Clark ranks first in defensive rating at 90.6, head and shoulders above her peers for her volume. Tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player every night, Clark has taken advantage, accumulating 1.7 steals per game (good for eighth in the WNBA), and leading the league in defensive win shares with 4.2.

“She’s the best defensive player in the league this year just because of the consistency all year,” head coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “When she’s guarding those players from Taurasi to [Arike] Ogunbowale to Kelsey Mitchell, every team, she’s getting that assignment and she does a tremendous job of individually making life very difficult for them.”


Like Breanna Stewart is the best player on the WNBA’s best team, Clark is the best defender on the league’s best defense. The Storm rank first in the league in scoring defense (75.3 points per game), opponent field goal percentage (40.2%) and field goals made (27.7), and rank atop the WNBA in steals per game (10.7) and third in the league in blocks per game (4.2).

“She’s an amazing defender and she’s so well prepared,” Kloppenburg said. “She knows the ins and outs and the strengths and weaknesses of everyone she’s going to guard down to every detail.”

While Clark may not always stuff the stat sheet with steals and blocks, though she has on a few occasions this season, she will consistently limit the opposing team’s best offensive player. Clark is a huge reason why the Storm have the league’s best defense, and take it from Taurasi herself, she’s the best defender in the WNBA.