Breanna Stewart is always looking for ways to improve her game. This season, her efforts culminated in several career accomplishments.
The Seattle Storm forward led the WNBA in scoring for the first time in her career with an average of 21.8 points and became the first player to repeat as the Associated Press WNBA Player of the Year on Tuesday.
Stewart received six votes for player of the year, with Aja Wilson receiving the remaining four votes from the 10-member media panel. Stewart is the first two-time winner of the award since AP voting began in 2016.
“It’s an honor to be recognized as the best in the league,” said Stewart, who was the 2018 Player of the Year. Ever since I started in the WNBA in 2016, I’ve been trying to get better. Raise myself and the team, the league as a whole. It’s a great honor, but we’re motivated by a lot and trying to win a championship.”
Stewart’s fourth-seeded Seattle Hurricanes begin the playoffs on Thursday in a best-of-three series against Washington.
The WNBA will announce its league awards for the postseason, which begins Wednesday.
Wilson was named AP Player of the Year over Alyssa Thomas and Natasha Cloud. Wilson averaged 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals a game and anchored the Aces’ defense.
Aces teammate Jackie Young was named Most Improved Player.
Tanisha Wright becomes the first former WNBA player to win the AP Coach of the Year award. She was one of six former players to become a head coach in the league this season — five of whom led their teams to the playoffs.
“It’s good practice to put former players on the bench, whether it’s head coaching or assistant coaching,” Wright said. “We’ve come out on fire and put our stamp on the WNBA. I am proud to be part of a group of players who have played in this league and are now making an impact in a different way.
Other AP winners include:
– The sixth woman of the year. Briana Jones was a unanimous choice a year after winning the AP Most Improved Player. She averaged 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals for Connecticut.
– Returning Player of the Year. Alyssa Thomas won the award after missing all but two games of last year’s regular season due to an Achilles injury suffered in January 2021.
– Rookie of the Year. Rhyne Howard was the Atlanta Dream’s No. 1 pick and a recent unanimous pick for the award. Howard is averaging 16.2 points and 4.6 rebounds this season, helping Atlanta win six more games than last season.
“Ree put us on her back and made a statement for herself and the organization and the franchise,” Wright said. “She carried that burden with grace and contentment. I’m so proud of her and her accomplishments.”
– All the Rocky team. Howard is joined on the AP all-rookie team by Washington’s Shakira Austin, Chicago’s Rebecca Gardner, Indiana’s Nalisa Smith and Phoenix’s Sam Thomas.
– All-WNBA teams. Stewart and Wilson were unanimous first-team selections. Joining the first team are Candace Parker, Chicago; Kelsey Plum, Las Vegas; and Sabrina Ionescu, New York. Second Team: Jonkel Jones, Connecticut; Neka Ogumumike, Los Angeles; Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut; Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago; and Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix.
Las Vegas finished the year on a power pick. Chicago, Connecticut and Seattle followed the Aces. Washington tied for fifth with Dallas, New York and Phoenix. Minnesota, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Indiana completed the selection.
Player of the week
Las Vegas’ Wilson averaged 20.3 points, 10 rebounds and 3.3 assists to earn AP Player of the Year honors. Other players who received votes were New York’s Ionescu, Seattle’s Stewart and Chelsea’s Aces Gray.
More AP Women’s Basketball: And