Candace Parker's All-Defensive Teams snub is HISTORIC

Move over, Connecticut Sun. We've got a new level of disrespect.

WELP. On Tuesday, the WNBA announced the All-Defensive First and Second teams, and one name was missing — 2020 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDACE PARKER.

Here’s the list of both teams (first-place votes were worth 5 points, and second-team votes were worth 3 points):

First Team

G - Alysha Clark, Seattle Storm (11 first team, 0 second team, 55 points)

G - Betnijah Laney, Atlanta Dream (7 first team, 4 second team, 47 points)

F - Brianna Turner, Phoenix Mercury (8 first team, 1 second team, 43 points)

F - Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun (6 first team, 3 second team, 39 points)

C - Elizabeth Williams, Atlanta Dream (3 first team, 3 second team, 24 points)

Second Team

G - Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics (2 first team, 5 second team, 25 points)

G - Brittney Sykes, Los Angeles Sparks (0 first team, 8 second team, 24 points)

F - Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm (3 first team, 6 second team, 33 points)

F - Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx (3 first team, 5 second team, 30 points)

C - A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces (3 first team, 2 second team, 21 points)


Yeah, Parker won the Defensive Player of the Year honor comfortably, receiving 16 of 47 votes. The Seattle Storm’s Alysha Clark finished second with 11 votes, and the Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas finished third with 10 votes.

So what the heck happened?

The difference here is who voted for which honor. Defensive Player of the Year is decided by a panel of 47 media members. The All-Defensive teams are decided by the 12 head coaches, with each coach not allowed to pick a player on their team.

Has this happened before?

NOPE! Parker’s absence from either team is historic. This has never happened in NBA or WNBA history. In the W, DPOY has made All-Defensive First Team every single year since 2005, when the designations were introduced. In the NBA, only a handful of times has a DPOY made All-Defensive Second Team. The NBA’s never had a DPOY left off of both teams.

What does this all mean?

Well it definitely gives you a look into what WNBA head coaches think of Parker’s defense. It’s also worth noting that The Athletic last year talked to “nearly two-thirds” of the league, and at the top of the league’s most overrated list was Parker with 20.5 percent of the vote.

Was leaving Parker off both the All-Defensive teams unfair?


So much of this award is subjective, with no defensive statistic being perfect. Parker finished fourth in D-PIPM (defensive player impact plus-minus) behind Breanna Stewart, Natasha Howard and A’ja Wilson in that order. Parker’s 1.2 blocks per game were tied for eighth-most in the league. She finished third in defensive win shares behind Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson. She finished only 31st in points per possession allowed of all players in the league who defended the shooter at least 50 times, per Synergy.

But this was only a 22-game season. Defensive metrics are always noisy, and they’re especially so with such a small sample size of games.

Also, these awards can be interpreted in so many ways. Does it go to the best one-on-one defender in the league? Does it go to the best team defender in the league? If a player is stellar, but her team isn’t one of the top defensive teams in the league, does that take away from her performance? How about if she plays next to a second incredible defender?

I don’t have concrete answers here. But Parker’s absence is shocking.

If this post helped, I hope you’ll share it with friends using this link:


Or subscribe to get the newsletter delivered to your inbox for free using this link:

Or pay $7 per month to support the work I do, by using this link:

I’m also still looking for work writing about the WNBA!

If you have any leads, please email: or DM me on Twitter: @mellentuck. I miss doing this as a full-time job. All of my previous work can be found at SB Nation, where I worked for the past four years before being laid off due to the pandemic. I’ve also written for The New York Times twice this year, which you can read here and also here.