Connecticut Sun star Alyssa Thomas lost the 2023 WNBA MVP race, a long-expected outcome in a season defined by the battle of the superteams in New York and Las Vegas.
Yet while MVP winner Breanna Stewart and 2022 MVP A’ja Wilson headlined the clash of titans, Thomas put up numbers never seen before. The 31-year-old forward has posted six triple-doubles so far in 2023. No other WNBA player has had more than two in a single season.
Indeed, Thomas received more first-place votes (23) than Stewart (20) and Wilson (12). But each voter lists their top five candidates, and Stewart received more total points, edging Thomas 446-439. Wilson came in third at 433.
In the 2023 regular season, Thomas averaged 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game, all career highs. She has continued that dominance in the postseason, averaging 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 9.5 assists through Game 1 of the semifinals.
Teammate DiJonai Carrington summed up Thomas’ performance well after her third triple-double of the season: “I don’t want any of y’all to get used to and normalize what she’s doing out there, for real. Like, that’s not normal.”
Thomas led the league in rebounds in the regular season. She finished in second place on the assists leaderboard, behind only Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot (8.1), but played more games than Vandersloot, which allowed her to break the single-season assists record (316). She also ranked 20th in points, and she led her team in all three categories.
In contrast, Stewart averaged 23.0 (2nd), 9.3 rebounds (3rd) and 3.8 assists (17th), and Wilson averaged 22.8 points (3rd), 9.5 rebounds (2nd) and 1.6 assists (64th).
While Thomas isn’t one to toot her own horn, her teammate and fiancée DeWanna Bonner is pushing her to recognize her accomplishments, and Thomas did so in an interview with the Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland.
“I think the biggest thing is I’m putting up something that has never been seen before,” Thomas said. “We live in an era now where it’s so much focused on scoring that I think we lose sight of the all-around game and how impressive it is.”
And Bonner has no problem giving Thomas her flowers.
“She puts people in the right position. She finds people on the court and makes it easy for everyone out there,” Bonner told the Associated Press. “I feel like she’s elevating everybody’s game on our team. That’s the definition of an MVP, and I think she’s done it night in and night out.”