Chicago Sky center Sylvia Fowles and Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi led the voting for 2013 All-WNBA First-Team, the WNBA announced today. Fowles was the leading vote-getter (167 points), followed by Taurasi (162), who earned a record-tying eighth First Team nod.
A pair of Minnesota Lynx players – forward Maya Moore (161) and guard Lindsay Whalen (143) - followed close behind in the First-Team balloting. But in a conspicuous anomoly, Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker, the 2013 WNBA MVP and the only First-Team returnee from the 2012 season, drew barely enough votes (119) to make the First Team. The same panel of 39 national and local sportswriters and broadcasters voted for both end-of-season honors, and all ballots were submitted at the conclusion of the regular season, so perceptions of playoff performances could not have entered into the decisionmaking.
One possible explanation: Players were selected for the All-WNBA Teams by position -- i.e., two forwards, two guards and one center for each of the two teams -- with players receiving five points for each First-Team vote and three points for each Second-Team designation. The ballot instructed voters to "vote for the player in the position in which she is a starter." (Emphasis in original ballot.) Though listed in the WNBA player files as a "forward/center," Parker is carried on most game box scores as a "center," which might have led some panelists to conclude they could vote for her only at that position.
If so, those voters would have been forced to choose at center between Parker, whose all-around performance, which ranked among the league's best in several statistical categories this season but did not top the leaderboard in any of them, likely contributed to her selection as the league's Most Valuable Player, and Fowles, the 2013 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, who ranked first in the classic "center" criteria of rebounding (14.7 rbg) and field-goal percentage (.586), ranked second in the league in blocks (1.18 bpg), and was one of just two players (the other being fellow center Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun) to average a double-double, finishing with a scoring average of 16.3 points. Fowles, who captured WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors in July, August, and September, was also the WNBA's most efficient player in 2013 (EFF 23.3), narrowly edging out Parker (EFF 23.0).
Whatever the reasons, however, one thing is clear from simple arithmetic: The same panel that named Parker the league's 2013 MVP was far from unanimous in selecting her to the All-WNBA Team, and some voters likely failed to vote for her for either First or Second Team. It remains to be seen whether flexibility in playing positions that is becoming the norm throughout the league, combined with the near miss of the embarrassment that would have attended having its newly minted MVP left off the All-WNBA First Team, will lead the league to revise its voting procedures by, for example, adopting the now-standard All-Star balloting practice of asking voters to select two guards and three posts, or abandoning position voting altogether.
Indiana Fever forward and 2011 WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings finished three points behind Parker, topping the Second-Team voting with 116 points. WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky (105) took the second forward slot on the 2013 All-WNBA Second Team. Angel McCoughtry (97) of the Atlanta Dream and Seimone Augustus (62) of the Minnesota Lynx were selected as guards, while the 2012 WNBA Most Valuable Player, Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles (52) rounded out the Second Team.
This year's selection ties Taurasi, who also earned All-WNBA First Team honors in 2004 and in 2006-11, with Lisa Leslie for the most First Team selections in WNBA history. This marks the third First Team honor for both Parker (2008, 2012) and Whalen (2008, 2011), the second for Fowles (2010), and the first for Moore, who was a member of the Second Team a year ago.
Taurasi finished second in the league in both scoring (20.3 ppg) and assists (6.2 apg) in 2013, while guiding Phoenix into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. The Mercury opens play in the Western Conference Finals tomorrow against the top-seed Lynx at the Target Center (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).
Parker, who also earned MVP honors as a rookie in 2008, guided the Sparks to a 24-10 record, tied for the second-best mark in the league as Los Angeles secured the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. She ranked fourth in the WNBA in blocks (1.84 bpg), sixth in scoring (17.9 ppg), seventh in rebounding (8.7 rpg) and double-doubles (eight), and 12th in assists (career-high 3.8 apg).
The runner-up to Parker in the 2013 MVP voting, Moore helped Minnesota to the league’s best record (26-8) and the top overall seed in the playoffs. Moore led the WNBA in three-point field goal percentage and three-point shots made (.453 on 72-of-159), and ranked third in scoring (18.5 ppg). She also finished sixth in steals (1.74 spg), seventh in free throw percentage (.882 on 90-of-102 from the line), and 15th in rebounds (6.2 rpg).
Whalen, an All-WNBA Second Team selection a year ago, averaged a career-high 14.9 ppg, good for 15th in the league. She also ranked third in assists (5.8 apg, the second-best figure of her career), and contributed an average of 4.4 rebounds.
Each player named to the All-WNBA First and Second Teams will receive a trophy designed by Tiffany & Co. In addition, First Team honorees will receive an award of $10,000, while each member of the Second Team will receive $5,000.
Below are the results of the 2013 All-WNBA Team voting:
2013 ALL-WNBA FIRST TEAM
Player Team Position Points
Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx Forward 161
Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks Forward 119
Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky Center 167
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury Guard 162
Lindsay Whalen Minnesota Lynx Guard 143
2013 ALL-WNBA SECOND TEAM
Player Team Position Points
Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever Forward 116
Elena Delle Donne Chicago Sky Forward 105
Tina Charles Connecitcut Sun Center 52
Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream Guard 97
Seimone Augustus Minnesota Lynx Guard 62
Source: Portions of this story were provided by a WNBA press release.