Web Editorial Associate
Out of all of the players in the WNBA, it’s hard to find a player that has had a better start to the 2017 season than Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles has.
Fowles entered this season coming off of a nice 2016 campaign where she averaged 13.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
This season, she has been even better.
Through the month of May, which included six games, Fowles helped lead the Lynx to an undefeated 6-0 record. During that span, she averaged 20 points (4th in the WNBA), 10.7 rebounds (2nd in WNBA), 2.3 blocks (2nd in WNBA), two steals (tied for 4th) and one assist per game.
Her 20 points matches a career high, while her 10.7 rebounds per game are the second-most she has averaged in her 10-year career.
“We are off to a good start, and we should be. When you have a 6-6 center who I believe is the best center in the world, this should be the case and this should be where we are talking about how dominant she is,” Lynx coach Cheryl reeve said. “She’s carried us through the first few weeks. It’s rewarding when someone really commits to being coachable and applying everything that she is learning. She’s been good on both ends of the floor, she’s dominated both ends.
“Now the next step is, you have everyone’s undivided attention, now how are we going to handle it. There’s another step to go and we’re probably about to face that.”
While tallying some career-best numbers through the first month of the WNBA season, Fowles has received some well-deserved recognition from the league.
Fowles opened up the season winning back-to-back Western Conference Player of the Week honors, becoming the first Western Conference player and the third player in WNBA history to win the award in consecutive weeks to start a season (Angel McCoughtry, 2010 and Elena Delle Donne, 2015).
She was also ranked No. 1 on WNBA.com’s latest Race to MVP rankings, which are released every Wednesday throughout the season. If Fowles can stretch her strong start through the rest of the season, you’ll have to think she’ll continue to be right near the top of that list.
On Friday, the awards kept on coming for Fowles. The WNBA announced Friday that Fowles was awarded as the Western Conference Player of the Month for the month of May. It is the sixth time in her career that she has received the award.
“It makes it easy that we win. It makes it easy that I have unselfish teammates that can get the ball when I need it. It makes it easy when I’m consistent and I go out there and am willing to work. All of those things tie into each other,” Fowles said. “It means a lot, but like I said, I couldn’t do it without my teammates. I got some great position coaches that help me make it easy for me in the game, because I work hard at practice. As excited as I am, this is just a milestone to where I’m trying to get.
“I feel like I have gotten off to a good start, but I have a long way to go. I’m content with the awards and everything else, but I have a lot more things I want to focus on and add to my game.”
This level of play from Fowles is exactly what Reeve and her coaching staff knew the 6-foot-6 center was capable of when Fowles was added to the team in 2015.
And with her play so far this season and mainly throughout her career to this point, Reeve can’t think of a player that has been more dominant. And she’s not just talking about this season.
“The way that Syl does it, that she’s so aggressive and pins you deep, there is just no other player that does that,” Reeve said. “As far as a dominant center, I don’t know if there is anybody that has been better than Sylvia in terms of her career. The sheer strength and force that she plays with around the rim.
“I think she is the best center that our league has seen through its 20-plus years.”