The WNBA’s 2023 end-of-season awards have been debated all season long. The MVP category has naturally received the most attention because of the nature of the award and the tight race among the three frontrunners: Alyssa Thomas, Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson.
As a WNBA media voter, I submitted my selections for all of the major awards toward the end of the regular season. After a full-season review and careful consideration, these were my choices.
The MVP award came down to a three-player race between Wilson (Aces), Stewart (Liberty) and Thomas (Sun). All three have compelling cases that made this the most difficult category to vote for. To me, though, Thomas’ overall importance to her team and her ability to impact every aspect of the game gives her the edge.
Thomas accomplished something this season that no other player in WNBA history has done, recording six triple-doubles in 2023. Her ability to impact the game can’t be understated, as she does everything for the No. 3 Sun.
She leads Connecticut with 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game, and she is first in the WNBA in rebounds and second in assists.
When 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones was traded to New York in the offseason, it was hard to imagine Connecticut being the third-best team in the WNBA heading into playoffs, yet here they are. That’s because of Thomas. She runs Connecticut’s offense and guards every position on defense.
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.”
It’s not normal, it’s historic. And that is worthy of the MVP award.
In her second year with New York, Sandy Brondello took the Liberty from a 16-20 record to a 32-8 record. During the offseason, the Liberty saw an influx of talent with the additions of Stewart, Jones and Courtney Vanderlsoot. But Brondello’s coaching can’t be discounted simply because she now has more tools. Sure, the new talent is a large part of the franchise’s improvement, but it’s not the only piece.
Brondello was able to take a team that early in the season looked like a collection of stars who didn’t know how to play together, and turn it into a cohesive unit that is a favorite to win the WNBA title. Brondello found a way to maximize the talent of her starting five and use her bench unit wisely to elevate the whole team.
There were several strong candidates for Sixth Player of the Year: Dana Evans helped the Sky overcome in-season adversity and sneak into the playoffs, and Alysha Clark changed the complexity of Las Vegas on both ends of the court when she entered games. But for me, the award should go to Connecticut’s DiJonai Carrington.
Early in the season, Carrington’s role was unclear and she played limited minutes. But the third-year player stayed the course and became a valuable part of the Sun playing their way to the 3-seed. In 17.2 minutes per game, she’s shooting 37% from long range and averaging 8.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Carrington brings an energy to both ends of the floor when she’s subbed in. Coach Stephanie White often chooses to leave her in during close game situations down the stretch, summing up her impact.
It was an up-and-down season for the Sparks as they narrowly missed the playoffs, but Jordin Canada was a constant bright spot. In her second year with Los Angeles, the 28-year-old established herself as a point guard to build around.
Canada improved in every stat category this season, with career-high averages in points (13.3), assists (6.0), rebounds (3.1) and steals (2.3). Her 3-point shooting also saw a massive increase, going from 14% to 33%.
Canada has a hand in every Sparks possession when she’s on the court, both offensively and defensively. She averages 2.8 steals per 40 minutes, the best mark in the WNBA, and was also in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.
This award has been Boston’s to lose all season. While Lynx guard Diamond Miller made a push when she returned from injury, Boston was steady from her first game to her last, earning her my vote.
The No. 1 draft pick averaged 14.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game for the Fever. She was also incredibly efficient when shooting the ball, making 57.8% of her attempts, the third-best mark in the league.
Though her team missed the playoffs, they improved drastically from last season, and Boston was a big part of that. Rookie of the Year is likely the first of many awards Boston will win throughout her career.
Wilson earned my vote for the second year in a row because she continues to change the way opponents play against the Aces. Her presence in the paint is enough to make players shy away from driving to the lane, and when they dare to challenge her, Wilson leads the league in shot-blocking with 2.2 per game.
Wilson isn’t just a shot-blocker, either. She knows how to defend without fouling, averaging only 2.1 fouls per game, while pulling down the third-most defensive rebounds in the league. She also has good hands defensively and can extend outside the paint with 1.4 steals per game.
Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun
Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings
Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.