Top 20: Alana Beard, no. 10
The definitive ranking of the WNBA’s best players.
by Ben York / @bjyork
Some of you won’t care, and we’re about 99 percent positive we’ll get a few of the traditional “what is the WNBA?” comments we usually do. But this is long overdue – SLAMonline’s first ever in-depth player rankings for the WNBA.
Why just the top 20 and not the top 50? Simple. There are 18 fewer teams in the WNBA than the NBA and roster sizes are limited to 11 players. Thus, the NBA has hundreds of more players than the WNBA does – and this list needs and deserves to be competitive.
This list is based solely on projected performance in the 2011 season. Traditional player statistics are taken into account but being a successful and effective player in The W is so much more than that. It’s what each player means to the team – in terms of responsibility, leadership, management and all-around game.
We know you’ll see players you think should be on the list but aren’t. Conversely, you’ll also see players on the list that you’ll vehemently disagree with. Maybe you agree with the entire top 20. Just be sure to let us know in the comment section.
Also, check out Ben’s weekly podcast at WNBA.com.– Ed.
No. 10 – Alana Beard
Anyone else as excited as I am that we have now entered the top ten?! If I’m honest, I couldn’t think of a better way to kick-off the second half of the countdown than SLAM’s own, Alana Beard.
If she wanted to, Alana Beard could average 25 points a game for the Washington Mystics. Maybe more poignantly, Beard would score that much if the team needed her to; that’s what matters to her the most. In each of her six seasons in the league, the Mystics haven’t needed her to be a league-leading scorer. Don’t get me wrong; they still needed Beard to score but it was more important that Beard also create for her teammates and be a lock-down defensive stopper.
In my opinion, Beard is one of the most complete players in the WNBA. She can score the ball extremely well (averaging 16.2 ppg over the course of her career), is a great passer (averaging 3.0 apg), rebounds efficiently (4.2 rpg), and usually guards the opposing team’s best player effectively (as evidenced by her multiple appearances on the WNBA All Defensive Team).
Beard has always been a staple of consistency on the basketball court. Before her season-ending ankle injury that kept her out all of 2010, Beard missed just eleven total games in six years. On top of that, she never averaged less than 30 minutes of playing time in those six seasons. It’s a testament to her work ethic and passion for the game to exert as much energy as she does on the defensive end to also be relied on as much as she is on the offensive end.
For the first time in a while, Mystics fans have a lot to look forward to in 2011. You’ll see a healthy Beard back on the floor accompanying a much-improved roster that finally made it into the postseason in 2010. As fans and followers of the WNBA, through her blog here at SLAMonline, we were fortunate enough to get an insiders look into Beard’s mind while she was completing difficult physical therapy sessions and not being able to play the game she loves so much. She said many times it was the most difficult few months of her entire basketball career.
Still, Beard would end each post with positivity and optimism; you could sense how driven she was to prove the critics wrong who said she’ll never be the same player again. At the end of each post, she would end with the same mantra: “When they say I can’t…I will.”
In 2011, there is no doubt in my mind that Alana Beard is poised for one heck of a comeback.