2022 WNBA awards: Aces clean up as A'ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Becky Hammon all win major honors

2022 WNBA awards: Aces clean up as A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Becky Hammon all win major honors

The WNBA playoffs are coming to a close, and now the league’s award season has ended as well. Over the past few weeks the league officially honored the best and the brightest from the 2022 regular season. Here’s a look at every single individual winner along with All-WNBA, All-Defensive and All-Rookie Teams.

MVP: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

As expected, the MVP race came down to A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, and it was decided by just a few votes. In the end, Wilson eked out the win, earning 31 first-place votes and 478 total points compared to Stewart’s 23 first-place votes and 446 total points. Wilson put up 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from behind the arc. Aside from points, all of those numbers were career-highs, and she finished fifth in the league in scoring, second in rebounding and first in blocks; no one else was in the top five in all three categories. Wilson is the seventh player to win multiple MVP awards and the fifth player to win MVP and DPOY in the same season.

Defensive Player of the Year: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

In one of the closest races we’ve seen this awards season, A’ja Wilson beats out Alyssa Thomas and Breanna Stewart for Defensive Player of the Year. This is the first time that Wilson has won the award, and she is the first player in Aces franchise history to do so. Wilson led the league in blocks with 1.9 per game, and she also averaged 7.6 defensive rebounds and 1.4 steals. Furthermore, she finished third in defensive win shares at 2.4, per Basketball-Reference.com. While the Aces didn’t have the best team defense, Wilson’s individual prowess and elite rim protection were enough to earn her the honor.

Rookie of the Year: Rhyne Howard, Atlanta Dream

There was little suspense when this award was announced. Howard, the No. 1 overall pick, was terrific in his rookie season, averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Among rookies, she was first in scoring, sixth in rebounding, first in assists and first in steals. She also became just the eighth rookie in league history to average at least 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two stocks (steals plus blocks). Thanks in large part to Howard, the Dream exceeded expectations and nearly made the playoffs.

Most Improved Player: Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces

In another win for the top-seeded Aces, Jackie Young was named Most Improved Player. After steadily improving since her rookie season in 2019, Young took a leap this season and became an All-Star for the first time. She averaged 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while shooting 43.1 percent from 3-point land; all of those numbers, save for assists, were a career-high. Young’s outside shooting was the biggest difference, as she went from a reluctant shooter to one of the best in the league.

Sixth Player of the Year: Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun

With Alyssa Thomas once again healthy, last season’s Most Improved Player, Brionna Jones, moved back to the bench. There, she quickly became the runaway favorite for Sixth Player of the Year and has now officially claimed the honor. She is the third different Sun player to win the award, which is more than any other franchise. Jones put up put up 13.8 points and 5.1 rebounds on 56.9 percent from the field, and she was named an All-Star for the second consecutive season.

Coach of the Year: Becky Hammon, Las Vegas Aces

One of the biggest moves of the entire offseason was the Aces letting long-time head coach Bill Laimbeer go and hiring Becky Hammon to replace him. She turned the Aces into a modern basketball team and helped make them borderline unstoppable on offense. Under Hammon’s leadership, the Aces won a franchise-record 26 games and earned the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. Hammon is the third former player to win the award.

Executive of the Year: James Wade, Chicago Sky

Wade has dual responsibilities as the head coach and general manager of the Sky, and few people in the history of the league have ever made the arrangement work as well as he did this past year. After leading the Sky to the title last season, he then put together a masterclass on team building and roster management in the winter to make sure they remained contenders this season. Key moves included re-signing Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Kahleah Copper, signing Emma Meesseman and Rebekah Gardner in free agency, and also trading for Julie Allemand.

All WNBA First Team

Note: All-WNBA teams are now position-less

Skylar Diggins-Smith

Phoenix Mercury

Candace Parker

Chicago Sky

Kelsey Plum

Las Vegas Aces

Breanna Stewart

Seattle Storm

A’ja Wilson

Las Vegas Aces

All-WNBA Second Team

Sylvia Fowles

minnesota lynx

Sabrina Ionescu

New York Liberty

Jonquel Jones

Connecticut Sun

Nneka Ogwumike

Los Angeles Sparks

Alyssa Thomas

Connecticut Sun

All-Defensive First Team

Note: All-Defensive teams remain position-based

Ariel Atkins

washington mystics

Guard

Natasha Cloud

washington mystics

Guard

Breanna Stewart

Seattle Storm

Forward

A’ja Wilson

Las Vegas Aces

Forward

Sylvia Fowles

minnesota lynx

Center

All-Defensive Second Team

Player

Team

Position

Brittney Sykes

Los Angeles Sparks

Guard

Gabby Williams

Seattle Storm

Guard

Ezi Magbegor

Seattle Storm

Forward

Alyssa Thomas

Connecticut Sun

Forward

Jonquel Jones

Connecticut Sun

Center

All Rookie Team

Rhyne Howard

Atlanta Dream

NaLyssa Smith

Indiana Fever

Shakira Austin

washington mystics

Queen Egbo

Indiana Fever

Rebekah Gardner

Chicago Sky

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