A Complete Rewind Of 2018 WNBA Awards
By Dorothy J. Gentry
The WNBA season is still going on as the Seattle Storm, Phoenix Mercury, Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics continue their quest to make it to the Finals.
But all of the season-ending awards have been announced and they contained some expected results and a few surprises as well. Here is a complete wrap-up of the 2018 WNBA awards.
2018 WNBA MVP
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart has been named the 2018 WNBA Most Valuable Player. The three-year veteran earned her first MVP award and became the 10th different player in the last 10 years to win the honor.
Stewart (372 points) received 33 of 39 first-place votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage finished second with 231 points, including four first-place votes. Washington Mystics forward/guard Elena Delle Donne received the other two first-place votes and was third with 206 points.
Behind Stewart, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, Seattle went a league-best 26-8 and earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Stewart, the 2016 WNBA Rookie of the Year, ranked second in the WNBA in scoring (career-high 21.8 ppg), third in rebounding (8.4 rpg), seventh in blocked shots (1.44 bpg) and eighth in steals (1.35 spg) this season. She established career highs in field goal percentage (52.9, 10th in the WNBA) and three-point field goal percentage (41.5, eighth) and shot 82.0 percent from the free throw line.
2018 WNBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Los Angeles Sparks guard/forward Alana Beard was named the 2018 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, earning the honor for the second consecutive season and becoming the fifth player in league history to win the award in back-to-back seasons.
Beard received 16 votes from a national panel of 39 sportswriters and broadcasters. Three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx finished second with nine votes. Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream finished third with four votes.
Beard’s 1.47 steals per game ranked fourth in the WNBA and helped the Sparks pace the league in steals (7.94 spg) and points allowed (77.0 ppg).
For the season, Beard averaged 4.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 40.0 percent from three-point range. Beard, an eight-time WNBA All-Defensive Team selection, ranks third on the WNBA’s all-time steals list with 698, tops among active players.
2018 WNBA All-Defense Team
The All-Defense Team is led by two-time reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard. She received nine of a possible 11 All-Defensive First Team votes from a panel of the league’s head coaches. She earned her fifth WNBA All-Defensive First Team selection and ninth All-Defensive nod overall (including four Second Team honors).
She is joined on the WNBA All-Defensive First Team by Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (41), Connecticut Sun guard Jasmine Thomas (41), Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard (37) and Atlanta Dream forward Jessica Breland (34).
The WNBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles (32 points), Dream guard Tiffany Hayes (32), Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson (23), Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (22) and Washington Mystics rookie guard Ariel Atkins (19).
2018 WNBA Coach of the Year
Atlanta Dream head coach Nicki Collen, who guided the team to the No. 2 seed in the 2018 WNBA Playoffs, was named the WNBA Coach of the Year. She received 37 votes from a national panel of 39 sportswriters and broadcasters. Dan Hughes of the Seattle Storm and Mike Thibault of the Washington Mystics tied for second with one vote each.
In Collen’s first season as a head coach at any level, the Dream won 15 of its final 17 games to finish with a 23-11 record – an 11-game improvement over last season’s 12-22 mark. The 23 victories are the most in franchise history, surpassing the previous mark of 20 set in 2011 (20-14). The season-ending 15-2 surge featured a team-record eight-game winning streak.
Under Collen, Atlanta ranked among the league leaders in several defensive categories. The Dream led the WNBA in defensive rating, allowing 97.1 points per 100 possessions, and blocked a league-high 5.29 shots per game. Atlanta also held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage (42.3) and the second-lowest three-point field goal percentage (32.1).
2018 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year
Atlanta Dream general manager Chris Sienko was named the 2018 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year. Sienko earned the honor in his first year in his position and was instrumental in the hiring of Head Coach Nicki Collen.
Sienko received six of 11 first-place votes and four second-place votes (42 points) from a panel composed of one basketball executive from each WNBA team. Seattle Storm President and General Manager Alisha Valavanis finished second with 37 points (five first-place votes). Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault was third with 10 points.
2018 WNBA Most Improved Player
Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard has been named the 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player, the WNBA announced today. The five-year veteran is the first Storm player to earn the honor, which was first presented in 2000.
Howard, who was acquired by the Storm in February in a trade with the Lynx, received 29 of 39 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud finished second with four votes. Dallas Wings guard Kayla Thornton and Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot tied for third with two votes each.
In her first season with the Storm, Howard averaged career highs of 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.97 blocked shots (third in the WNBA) and 1.29 steals in 25.6 minutes while starting 33 of the 34 games she played. Last season with the Minnesota Lynx, she averaged 4.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.62 blocks and 0.53 steals in 11.7 minutes while coming off the bench in all 34 of her appearances.
Howard also improved her shooting accuracy this season, raising her field goal percentage to 54.7 from 48.4 and increasing her free throw percentage to 79.8 from 73.3. The 6-2 Howard made 17 three-pointers after hitting a total of four in her previous four seasons combined.
2018 Kim Perrott Sportsmanship Award
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird has been named the 2018 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award recipient. This marks the third such honor for Bird, who won the award in 2017 and shared it with Ruth Riley in 2011.
The Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award is presented each season to a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court, including ethical behavior, fair play and integrity. The award is named for the late Kim Perrot, who helped guide the Houston Comets to their first two WNBA championships before passing away in August 1999 after a seven-month battle with cancer.
Bird received 16 votes from a national panel of 38 sportswriters and broadcasters. The Chicago Sky’s Courtney Vandersloot finished second with five votes, while the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne, the Connecticut Sun’s Jasmine Thomas and the Atlanta Dream’s Elizabeth Williams tied for third with four votes each.
Bird, the WNBA’s all-time assists leader, has spent her entire 16-year career with the Storm, which selected her with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft.
The two-time WNBA champion finished the 2018 season ranked seventh in WNBA history in scoring (6,154) and fifth in steals (652). She has led the league in assist average three times (2005, 2009 and 2016).
2018 WNBA Peak Performer Awards
Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage, Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles and Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot won the 2018 WNBA Peak Performer Awards in scoring, rebounding and assists, respectively
The WNBA presents the Peak Performer Awards annually to the players who lead the league in each of those categories during the regular season
Scoring Average: Liz Cambage averaged 23.0 points in 32 games to earn her first scoring title. She surpassed her previous career high of 16.3 points set in 2013, when she last played in the WNBA before this season.
A two-time All-Star selection, Cambage recorded six games of at least 30 points this season. She scored a WNBA-record 53 points against the New York Liberty on July 17.
Rebounding Average: Sylvia Fowles won her second rebounding title with a historic performance on the glass. In her 11th season, the 6-6 Fowles set WNBA single-season records for rebounding average (11.88 rpg) and total rebounds (404 in 34 games). Both marks were previously held by Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones, who averaged 11.85 rebounds and totaled 403 rebounds in 34 games in 2017.
A five-time All-Star selection, Fowles registered at least 17 rebounds in five games this season. On May 23, Fowles hauled in a season-high 20 rebounds against the Wings.
Assists Average: Courtney Vandersloot averaged a WNBA-record 8.6 assists per game, breaking her own record of 8.1 assists set last season. She also broke the WNBA record for total assists in a season with 258, surpassing Ticha Penicheiro’s total of 236 assists from 2000.
This marks the third assists title in eight seasons for Vandersloot, who also led the league in 2015. Vandersloot recorded at least 10 assists 10 times this season, including two games with a career-high 15 assists.