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.

Most Valuable Player

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun

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.

Coach of the Year

Sandy Brondello, New York Liberty

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(Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images)

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.

Sixth Player of the Year

DiJonai Carrington, Connecticut Sun

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(M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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.

Most Improved Player

Jordin Canada, Los Angeles Sparks

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(Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

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.

Rookie of the Year

Aliyah Boston, Indiana Fever

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(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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.

Defensive Player of the Year

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

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(David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

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.

All WNBA First Team

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.

DeWanna Bonner looked great for a player of any age as the 35-year-old drained 41 points Thursday for the Connecticut Sun.

And after Bonner set the franchise single-game scoring record, teammate DiJonai Carrington made sure everyone knew it. In a tweet highlighting Bonner’s accomplishment, Carrington made a pointed reference to Sun draftee Alexis Morris’ tweets calling on WNBA veterans to “hang it up.”

Stunningly efficient shooting — 16-of-23 from the field, and 5-of-7 from 3-point range — helped Bonner achieve the scoring record in 32 minutes in the Sun’s 90-84 win against the previously undefeated Las Vegas Aces.

“To score 41 points here, I just love the organization so much,” Bonner said of scoring 41 points in front of a home crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena. “It’s changed my life.

“That locker room is probably one of the closest teams that I’ve been on in a very long time. When we come to work every day, we actually enjoy being around each other.”

The love from her teammates poured in after the win, in postgame interviews and on social media.

“Hang it up???” Carrington tweeted. “Yeaaaahhh aightttttt.”

Carrington’s post calls back to a series of tweets from Morris, a 2023 second-round draft pick of the Sun who was cut from the team before the start of the season.

The 5-9 guard, who helped lead LSU to the 2023 NCAA championship, criticized WNBA veterans for remaining in the league too long and taking up roster spots in the since-deleted posts. She argued that if roster spots cannot be made available to the rookies, then teams should “cut the vets.” Just 15 of this year’s 36 draftees made opening day rosters.

“The vets gotta know when to cut the net, and pass the torch bro,” she wrote. “If you knocking at 35, hang it up and I mean WIRED HANGER ‘Hang it up.’”

Morris later apologized for her tweets, writing in an Instagram caption: “To the veterans of the WNBA, please accept my sincerest apologies. I never thought joining the W family would be easy, but now I understand just how hard it is to do that.

“My energy would have been better served directed toward league executives who have a say in expansion and other logistics. I look forward to celebrating your individual and collective careers and giving you all the flowers you deserve.”

As WNBA training camp begins, colleges are wishing their alumni luck. But Stanford women’s basketball missed one.

Stanford took to Twitter to applaud former Cardinal players who are participating in WNBA training camps, but the program did not include DiJonai Carrington. Carrington played for Stanford for four seasons before transferring to Baylor for her fifth season as a graduate transfer.

The Connecticut Sun guard seemed to laugh at the omission in a Twitter post. She then provided proof of her graduation from the university in response to those who seemingly didn’t believe her.

Fellow players, including WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, backed her up.

“And did!!! Shame on you @StanfordWBB!” Swoopes wrote.

NaLyssa Smith, who played with Carrington at Baylor, called it “very weird” that her former teammate wasn’t included in Stanford’s well wishes.

“Very weird of y’all to forget @DijonaiVictoria,” she wrote. “But i feel like it starts with the coach, no coach is letting this happen to one of there players 2 years in a row.”

Smith then doubled down, calling it “childish” not to include Carrington.

“Transfer or not once you graduate from the school, you’re forever connected to the school,” she continued. “At the end of the day it’s just childish because they know what they’re doing.”

The second week of Athletes Unlimited Basketball means (some) new captains and major roster overhauls.

Mercedes Russell is the only captain to carry over from Week 1 to Week 2, finishing the first slate of games fourth overall in points with 1,050. Former teammates Natasha Cloud and Isabelle Harrison will go head-to-head after Cloud finished atop the AU leaderboard with 1,451 points and Harrison ended the week in third place with 1,291 points.

With the first overall pick of the draft on Sunday, Cloud selected Week 1 teammate and captain DiJonai Carrington. The two were dynamite in Week 1, helping lead Team Carrington to an undefeated record over the weekend.

Brown took guard Taj Cole with the second pick. Cole sits seventh on the leaderboard with 990 points after Week 1. One of four players picked up during Athletes Unlimited tryouts, Cole has been making waves, averaging 19.7 points, 5.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds. She also currently leads the league with 22 3-pointers made. Carrington is second with 13.

With the third pick of the draft, Harrison selected Jantel Lavender. The Indiana Fever forward finished fifth in the standings, just six points behind Russell after a high-scoring week for Team Carrington.

Russell selected former captain Kelsey Mitchell with the fourth overall pick. After breaking out with 27 points in Game 2, Mitchell went just 1-for-3 in games over the weekend while her team was missing multiple players due to COVID-19 protocols.

DiJonai Carrington, Odyssey Sims, Mercedes Russell and Kelsey Mitchell have been selected as Athletes Unlimited’s week one basketball captains.

The league’s inaugural week one draft will kick off at 3 pm ET on Sunday, streaming on Facebook Live.

Teams will be formed from a 44-player list, which features, among other talents, WNBA stars like Lexie Brown, with Carrington, Sims, Russell and Mitchell selecting their squads for the first round of games.

The Athletes Unlimited basketball season tips off on Wednesday in Las Vegas, with the opener streaming live on Athletes Unlimited’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels at 8:00 PM ET and the second game airing on CBS Sports Network at 11:00 PM ET.

The five-week competition runs through Feb. 26.

Connecticut Sun guard Dijonai Carrington still isn’t over the controversial no-call from last season’s NCAA tournament thriller between Baylor and UConn.

After watching a last-second foul call send Brianna Turner to the line against New York, where the Mercury guard won the game, Carrington took to Twitter, writing, “Oh. So refs do call blatant fouls in the final seconds of big games. Cool cool.”

Last March, Carrington’s Bears fought No. 1 UConn until the very end for their chance to advance to the Final Four of the women’s NCAA Tournament. But during a final drive, Carrington was robbed of a potential game-winning shot.

While many, including Carrington, wanted a foul called, no whistle was blown.

Carrington eventually dropped to one knee, mouthing “what?” in disbelief.

The crucial moment came with just five seconds remaining and Baylor down 68-67. The no-call ultimately sent UConn to their 13th-consecutive women’s Final Four.