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Natasha Cloud slams WNBA awards voting after being shut out

Natasha Cloud was named to the all-defensive first team in 2022 but did not make the cut in 2023. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Natasha Cloud is taking exception to WNBA awards voting after being shut out for the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award and the all-defensive team selections.

A’ja Wilson won the award as the top defensive player for the second year in a row, and Alyssa Thomas, Brittney Sykes and Betnijah Laney all received votes. Sykes and Thomas were named to the all-defensive first team alongside Wilson, as were Jordin Canada and Breanna Stewart.

Laney, Napheesa Collier, Ezi Magbegor, Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams were named to the all-defensive second team.

For the Washington Mystics in 2023, Cloud averaged 1.1 steals and 0.3 blocks per game, while also pulling down 3.7 rebounds per game, including a career-high 3.5 defensive rebounds. All of those metrics ranked outside of the top 20 in the league. Her defensive rating (104) also put her outside the top 20.

“Voting for this league is a joke,” Cloud wrote on social media in a now-deleted post, before alluding to awards voting boiling down to politics in another post. She called it “one hell of a thing.”

“Cause y’all really f–ing playing with me,” she finished.

In a now-deleted tweet, Natasha Cloud called out WNBA awards voting.

While Cloud did make the all-defensive first team in 2022, she called out WNBA awards voting in 2021, when she also was left off the all-defensive teams. In 2022, she averaged 3.1 defensive rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.3 blocks, and in 2021, she averaged 3.2 defensive rebounds, a career-high 1.4 steals and 0.1 blocks.

Mystics head coach Eric Thibault also weighed in on the 2023 WNBA awards on social media, congratulating Sykes for her “well-deserved” selection to the all-defensive first team but questioning Cloud’s absence, which he called “hard to understand.”

“Removing positions for the All-Defense teams is mostly to blame,” he wrote. “Stats are how people largely vote on/explain these awards, and that means steals, blocks, and rebounds. Two of those three immediately skew towards bigs.

“I don’t think we’re going to see many guards on All-D teams going forward unless they are at the top in steals, like (Sykes) and Canada. … All that to say, there aren’t 10 players better at the craft of playing defense than (Cloud).”