Sparks guard Brittney Sykes scored 17 points and four steals against the Seattle Storm (Facebook photo)

Brittney Sykes is a strong candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year, and she is confident that she will win this year. Sykes is first among guards in defensive win shares and second in estimated defensive contribution. The defensive intensity she provides contributes to Spark’s third-place defense rating.

Since the beginning of the year, Sykes made it known she wanted to be mentioned with the greats. But, instead of focusing on winning the award during the season, she sets her intentions on what she needs to do to win. She says staying locked in on the Sparks playoff situation is what matters. “I want to focus on my team winning and win DPOY at the same.”

Sykes says she is committed to the defensive and takes on the challenges of guarding the best players. But, according to Slim, everyone should judge the DPOY candidates by statistics. “The biggest thing people need to look for is statistics. That’s one thing that doesn’t lie. The effort is there, but a lot of people can get in front of someone and yell ball, but then they get blown by seconds later.”

Sparks guard Brittney Sykes (15) earned six points and three assists against the Las Vegas Aces on July 2, 2021 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Blocks, rebounds, and steals aren’t enough to be considered DPOY. She looks at how top players were guarded throughout the season. “I’ll keep saying it; we’re above 6’0, those should be a given. It’s all effort, but that shouldn’t be labeled as defense.”

Coach Trammel helped Syke evolve defensively. She says subconsciously or consciously, and they are always looking to change the game defensively. “I talk to LT a lot about how I can impact the game defensively.”

Tamika Catchings, Alana Beard, and Jrue Holiday are WNBA and NBA players that Sykes looks up too defensively. “I admire Catch because she’s a two-way player; that’s always been my goal, to be one the greatest two-way players ever. Alana Beard obviously because she’s one of the most frustrating guards to try and get by. Finally, Jrue Holiday, I’m a huge fan of his because of how efficient his defense is. That man’s defense is top tier.”

The Sparks are locked in for the playoffs with a loss from the New York Liberty. Fisher says he encourages his team to focus on the things they can control.