Minnesota Lynx Center Sylvia Fowles Named 2021 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The WNBA announced today that Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles is the recipient of the 2021 KIA WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and was also named to the All-WNBA Defensive First Team. This is Fowles’ fourth Defensive Player of the Year honor, joining Tamika Catchings (five) as the only players to win the award at least four times. Fowles received 31 votes from a national panel of 49 sportswriters and broadcasters. 

Fowles, 35, finished second in the league in rebounds (10.1), steals (1.8) and blocks (1.8) per game, becoming the only player in league history to finish among the top two in all three categories in a single season. She wrapped up her 14th WNBA season by starting in all 31 of her games played and led the league with a .640 field goal percentage.  

The 6-6 center posted 13 double-doubles in 2021, raising her career total to 180, including six 20+ points/10+ rebounds games (72 career). Fowles recorded 29 points and 20 rebounds on Aug. 24 vs. Seattle, marking her fourth career 20+ points/20+ rebounds night, the most in WNBA history. She registered a season-high 30 points and 14 rebounds on Jun. 25 vs Las Vegas, accounting for her sixth career 30+ points/10+ rebounds game. She tallied 14.1 points, on 67.9% shooting, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.4 steals over the last 10 games of the season, in which Minnesota went 9-1. On May 20 vs. Seattle, she became the WNBA career leader in defensive rebounds and now tops the league’s career leaderboard in total rebounds (3,712), defensive rebounds (2,654), rebounds per game (9.8) and field goal percentage (59.7).  

Fowles remains the only recipient to receive the award in Lynx history (twice) and becomes the first player in league history to win the award in their 14th season. Behind Fowles, the Lynx ranked fourth in the WNBA in defensive rating (98.0) and held opponents to the fourth fewest points in the paint per game (32.8). Minnesota also ranked third in opponent field goal percentage (42.4) and points allowed (78.7 ppg).  

Originally drafted second overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky, Fowles has averaged 15.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 378 career regular season games (369 starts). She is a seven-time WNBA All-Star (2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021), a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020) and is now a four-time WNBA Defensive Player of the year (2011, 2013, 2016, 2021). Fowles is also a three-time All-WNBA First Team selection (2010, 2013, 2017), as well as an eight-time All-WNBA Defensive First Team selection (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2021). 

In honor of being named the 2021 KIA WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, Fowles will receive $5,150 and a specially designed trophy by Tiffany & Co.