Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson came in third in WNBA MVP voting. For head coach Becky Hammon, that’s a sure sign that the voters “didn’t do their homework.”
On Tuesday, the WNBA announced New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart as the 2023 MVP, and Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas as the runner-up. Wilson finished in third in one of the closest races in league history. Just 13 points separated Stewart and Wilson in the final tally.
“A’ja was the most dominant player in the league this year, on the most dominant team, on the most dominant offense the league has ever seen with the No. 1 defense,” Hammon said. “I don’t know what else the girl has to do.
“Other than the East Coast media probably needs to wake up and watch our games.”
The fans at Las Vegas’ Michelob Ultra Arena made their thoughts clear, serenading Wilson with “MVP!” chants during Tuesday’s Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals against the Dallas Wings. Wilson led her team with 30 points and 11 rebounds in the 91-84 win, which put the Aces up 2-0 in the series.
The MVP award would have been the cherry on top of her season, Wilson acknowledged after the victory. But she is keeping her focus on the main course: a second consecutive WNBA championship.
“The sundae is still good without the cherry,” she said. “This team still has so much more to do.”
Still, Hammon took some responsibility upon herself for Wilson’s narrow defeat in the MVP vote. Wilson averaged fewer minutes (30.7) than Thomas (36.2) and Stewart (34.1), which could have deflated her per-game statistics.
Wilson averaged 22.8 points on 55.7% shooting from the field, and she also had 9.5 rebounds, all career highs.
“She put together the greatest individual performance this league has ever seen, when you’re talking efficiency, field-goal percentage, rebounding, defense, the whole thing,” Hammon said. “And it’s just a real shame, because we’re talking about the MVP of the league.”
Wilson’s college coach, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, also called out WNBA awards voters for not giving enough respect to Wilson.
In particular, Staley called out one voter who put Aces guard Chelsea Gray in third place on the ballot over Wilson. Every other ballot included Stewart, Thomas and Wilson in the top three slots.
“To the fourth place voter, your hate is real and on display,” Staley wrote on X.
Becky Hammon brought stats to her pregame press conference today in defense of A’ja Wilson’s MVP case Hammon blames herself for not playing Wilson in fourth quarters of blowouts to pad her stats “People didn’t do their homework” pic.twitter.com/Ri45NB5I1m— Andy Yamashita | 山下伸辛 (@ANYamashita) September 27, 2023
Becky Hammon brought stats to her pregame press conference today in defense of A’ja Wilson’s MVP case Hammon blames herself for not playing Wilson in fourth quarters of blowouts to pad her stats “People didn’t do their homework” pic.twitter.com/Ri45NB5I1m