2019 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year: Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard wins award for first time

Early on Wednesday morning the WNBA announced that Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard has been named 2019 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. This is the first time Howard has won the honor, and just the second time for a Storm player. 

The voting for this award wasn’t even close, as Howard received 33 of the 43 votes from the media panel; no other player got more than three. 

After winning the title last season, the Storm were favorites to do so again until they suffered two key injuries in the offseason. Reigning MVP Breanna Stewart tore her Achilles tendon, while Sue Bird suffered a knee injury that needed surgery. Both missed the entire season, and in their absences, Howard stepped up to lead the Storm. 

She was a key component to their offense, but her effort on defense is where she stood out. She averaged 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocks per game, all of which were at least top-six in the league. In addition, she was one of just four players to average at least one steal and block. 

Her effort on the that end of the floor was a major reason the Storm’s defense remained among the best in the league despite their injuries. They finished the season with the fourth-best defense in the league, with a defensive rating of 96.4. 

Howard was also named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team for the second straight season. She’ll lead the Storm in their single-elimination first-round playoff matchup with the Minnesota Lynx on Wednesday night. 

Read this article from its original source at https://www.cbssports.com/wnba/news/2019-wnba-defensive-player-of-the-year-seattle-storm-forward-natasha-howard-wins-award-for-first-time/