Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson is the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player, the league announced Thursday.
The No. 1 overall pick three years ago led the Aces to an 18-4 record during the shortened season and the top seed in the WNBA playoffs. Wilson averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and two blocks this year for the Aces. She received 43 of the 47 first-place votes in easily outpacing Breanna Stewart, who finished second and Candace Parker who was third.
Wilson was surprised with the award on Thursday by WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. The Aces player thought she was going to a meeting with league referees when Engelbert surprised her.
The 24-year-old is the first player from the franchise to win the award going back to when the team was in San Antonio and before that Utah.
The league also announced that Minnesota’s Crystal Dangerfield was the league’s rookie of the year and Cheryl Reeve earned coach of the year honours. Dangerfield was the runaway winner for rookie of the year.
The second-round draft pick became the second consecutive Lynx player to win the award, joining Napheesa Collier. Dangerfield, who averaged 16.2 points and 3.6 assists this season, became the lowest drafted player to ever win the award. Before Thursday, the lowest draft pick ever to win the league’s top rookie honour was Tracy Reid, who was drafted seventh in 1998.
Dangerfield particularly excelled in the fourth quarter, scoring the second-most total points in the league in the final period behind only Arike Ogunbwale. The UConn grad averaged 6.5 points a game in the final period.
Dangerfield received 44 votes. Atlanta Dream guard Chennedy Carter finished second with two votes and Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally was third with one vote.
Reeve helped the Lynx to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs despite missing their star centre to a calf injury for more than half of the season. It’s the third time that Reeve has won the award as she also earned it in 2011 and 2016. She’s now tied with Van Chancellor and Mike Thibault for most times winning the award.
Reeve received 25 votes from a national panel of 47 sportswriters and broadcasters. Bill Laimbeer of the Las Vegas Aces finished second with 17 votes, Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Sparks and Thibault of the Washington Mystics tied for third with two votes each