Los Angeles Sparks’ center Jantel Lavender has been named the WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year.
In 34 games off the bench this season, Lavender averaged 9.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Sparks, helping them to the WNBA’s second-best overall record. The former first-round pick out of Ohio State was moved to a bench role after starting all 34 games at center last season. She is the first Sparks’ player to win this award, which was first handed out in 2007.
Despite her size, Lavender does most of her work offensively from the mid-range. She had this to say of her offensive mindset following a recent win over the Phoenix Mercury, via Jesse Dougherty of the Los Angeles Times:
“I just feel like teams don’t expect a center to be able to shoot, and when you can it’s a big weapon. It’s just something different for a big, and a lot of times the girls who are guarding me don’t want to come out of the paint to defend my jumper.”
Her teammate, Nneka Ogwumike, was named league MVP on Tuesday. Lavender, a 2015 WNBA All-Star, also earned AP Sixth Woman of the Year honors back on September 20.
She ended the regular season with a bang, combining to score 31 points along with nine rebounds in wins over the Mercury and San Antonio Stars, respectively.
Lavender and the No. 2-seeded Sparks will host the fourth-seeded Chicago Sky in the first game of the Conference Finals on Wednesday evening in Long Beach, California. Tip-off is set for 10:00pm Eastern Time and the game can be seen on ESPN2.