Breanna Stewart earns AP WNBA Player of the Year honors

Breanna Stewart is always looking for ways to improve her game. This season, her efforts culminated in more career milestones.

Breanna Stewart is always looking for ways to improve her game. This season, her efforts culminated in more career milestones.

The Seattle Storm forward led the WNBA for the first time in her career by averaging 21.8 points and on Tuesday became the first player to be repeated as The Associated Press’s WNBA Player of the Year.

Stewart received six votes for AP Player of the Year from the 10-member media panel, just ahead of A’ja Wilson, who received the other four votes. Stewart is the first two-time honoree since AP voting began in 2016.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as the best in the league,” said Stewart, who was also the 2018 player of the year. “Ever since I started in the WNBA in 2016, I’ve just been trying to get better. Improving myself and the team, the league as a whole. A great honor but we are motivated by more and this is trying to win a championship.”

Stewart’s fourth-seeded Seattle Storm starts the playoffs in a best-of-three series against Washington on Thursday.

The WNBA will announce its league awards throughout the postseason, which begins Wednesday.

Wilson was named AP Defensive Player of the Year, beating out Alyssa Thomas and Natasha Cloud. Wilson anchored the Aces’ defense averaging 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals per game.

Her Aces teammate Jackie Young was voted the Most Improved Player.

Tanisha Wright became the first former WNBA player to win the AP Coach of the Year award. She was one of six former players who were the league’s head coaches that season — five led their teams to the playoffs.

“It’s good practice to have ex-players on the bench, whether they’re a head coach or an assistant coach,” Wright said. “We came through the fire and made our mark on the WNBA. I’m proud to be part of this group of players who have played in this league and now influenced it in a different way.”

Other AP winners were:

— Sixth Woman of the Year. Brionna Jones was a unanimous choice a year after winning the AP’s Most Improved Player. She averaged 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals for Connecticut.

— Comeback Player of the Year. Alyssa Thomas received the award after missing all but two games of the regular season last year due to an Achilles tendon injury she sustained in January 2021. Thomas averaged 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists.

– Rookie of the Year. Rhyne Howard was the Atlanta Dream’s No. 1 and a near-unanimous choice for the award. Howard averaged 16.2 points and 4.6 rebounds this season, helping Atlanta win six more games than last season.

“Rhy got on our backs and made a statement for himself and the organization and the franchise,” Wright said. “Carry that burden and do it with the grace and serenity that she did it with. I’m super proud of them and their achievements.”

— All rookie team. Howard was joined on the AP All-Rookie team by Washington’s Shakira Austin, Chicago’s Rebekah Gardner, Indiana’s NaLyssa Smith and Phoenix’s Sam Thomas.

– All-WNBA teams. Stewart and Wilson were unanimously elected to the first team. Joining the first team are Candace Parker, Chicago; Kelsey Plum, Las Vegas; and Sabrina Ionescu, New York. The second team: Jonquel Jones, Connecticut; Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles; Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut; Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago; and Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix.

PERFORMANCE RANKINGS:

Las Vegas ended the year at the top of the power poll. Chicago, Connecticut and Seattle followed the aces. Washington finished fifth while Dallas, New York and Phoenix rounded out the top eight. Minnesota, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Indiana completed the poll.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Las Vegas’ Wilson was voted AP Player of the Week for averaging 20.3 points, 10 rebounds and 3.3 assists to help the Aces 3-0 and secure first place in the playoffs. Other players who received votes included New York’s Ionescu, Seattle’s Stewart and Chelsea Gray of the Aces.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/wnba/storm/breanna-stewart-earns-ap-wnba-player-of-the-year-honors/281-877c2406-bc9d-4418-8a4e-d0eb775e9a35 Breanna Stewart earns AP WNBA Player of the Year honors

Emma Bowman

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