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A’ja Wilson wins second MVP award of career

A'ja Wilson is the 2022 WNBA MVP and now a member of the All-WNBA First Team. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

A’ja Wilson is the 2022 WNBA MVP, the league announced Wednesday, receiving 31 out of 56 possible first-place votes.

The Las Vegas Aces forward received 478 total points from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, while Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart received 446 points with 23 first-place votes.

Wilson’s Aces teammate Kelsey Plum finished in third, while Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas came in fourth. Chicago Sky center Candace Parker finished in fifth.

Each voter lists their top five candidates, with the No. 1 player receiving 10 points. For second place, a player receives seven points while third gets five, fourth receives three and fifth gets one point. Total points are then added up, and the player with the most points wins the award.

Wilson takes home the top individual honor for the second time in her career. She also won in 2020.

For the 2022 season, Wilson already has been named the Defensive Player of the Year. She also has helped lead the Aces to their first WNBA Finals since 2020. While Las Vegas lost to Seattle that season, the Aces beat the Storm in the semifinals Tuesday to advance to the championship series for the second time in three years.

Wilson becomes the first player to win the MVP award twice since Elena Delle Donne won it in 2015 and 2019. Other two-time winners include Parker, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Cynthia Cooper.

She’s also the fifth player to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, but the first to do so since Jackson in 2007. Also on the list are Yolanda Griffith (1999), Swoopes (2000 and 2002) and Leslie (2004).

The Aces star averaged 19.5 points (fifth in the league), 9.4 rebounds (2nd), 2.1 assists, 1.4 steals and a league-leading 1.9 blocks per game during the regular season.

So far in the playoffs, she’s averaged 20.5 points (third in the league), 10.8 rebounds (third) and 2.3 blocks per game (second).

The race for MVP was a tight one this season between Wilson and Stewart. Each led the league in different categories and finished neck and neck in several others. Stewart held the edge in efficiency, with a rating of 29.4 to Wilson’s 28.7.

The duo also finished 1-2 in win shares, with Stewart edging out Wilson 8.1 to 7.0. Their shooting percentages almost identical, with Wilson edging Stewart in 2-point percentage (52.5 vs. 51.8) and Stewart edging Wilson in 3-point percentage (53.4 vs. 53.1).