Brenna Stewart is always looking for ways to improve her game and this season her efforts have resulted in a few more career milestones.
The Seattle Storm forward led the WNBA in scoring for the first time in her career with 21.8 points, and on Tuesday she became the first player to repeat as the Associated Press WNBA Player of the Year.
Stewart received six votes from the 10-member media panel for AP Player of the Year, with Aja Wilson receiving the other four. Stewart is the first two-time winner of the award since AP voting began in 2016.
“It’s an honor to be recognized as the best in the league,” said Stewart, who was also named the 2018 Player of the Year. Elevate yourself and the team, the league as a whole. A great honor, but we are more motivated and trying to win this championship.
Stewart’s fourth-seeded Seattle Storm begin their playoff run Thursday in a best-of-three series against Washington.
The WNBA will announce its league awards during the postseason beginning Wednesday.
Wilson was selected as the AP Defensive Player of the Year, beating out Alyssa Thomas and Natasha Cloud. Wilson paced the Aces defense averaging 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals a game.
His Aces teammate Jackie Young was named the most improved player.
Tanisha Wright became the first former WNBA player to win the AP Coach of the Year award. She was one of six former players to become a head coach in the league this season – five of them leading their teams to the playoffs.
Wright said it is good practice to have former players on the bench, whether they are head coaches or assistant coaches. “We’ve come out of the fire and put our stamp on the WNBA. I’m proud to be a part of a group of players that have played in this league and now impact it in different ways.
Other AP winners include:
– Sixth Woman of the Year. Breonna Jones was the consensus pick a year after winning the AP Player of the Year. He averaged 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals for Connecticut.
– Comeback Player of the Year. Alyssa Thomas earned the award last year after missing all but two games during the regular season because she suffered an Achilles injury in January 2021. Thomas averaged 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists.
– Rookie of the Year. Ryan Howard was the Atlanta Dream’s No. 1 pick and a near-unanimous choice for the award. Howard averaged 16.2 points and 4.6 rebounds this season, helping Atlanta win six more games than last season.
“Roy put us on his back and made a statement for himself and the organization and the franchise,” Wright said. “To carry that burden and do it with the grace and poise that he did it with, I’m so proud of him and his accomplishments.”
– All rookie team. Howard was joined on the AP All-Rookie team by Washington’s Shakira Austin, Chicago’s Rebecca Gardner, Indiana’s Nalisa Smith and Phoenix’s Sam Thomas.
– All WNBA Teams. Stewart and Wilson were unanimous first-team selections. Joining him on the first team are Candace Parker, Chicago; Kelsey Plum, Las Vegas; and Sabrina Ionescu, New York. Second Team: Jonquel Jones, Connecticut; Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles; Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut; Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago; and Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix.
Las Vegas finished the year atop the Power Poll. Chicago, Connecticut and Seattle followed the Aces. Washington was fifth, with Dallas, New York and Phoenix rounding out the top eight. Minnesota, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Indiana finished the poll.
Player of the week
Las Vegas’ Wilson earned Finals AP Player of the Week honors after averaging 20.3 points, 10 rebounds and 3.3 assists to help the Aces go 3-0 and earn the top seed in the playoffs. Other players receiving votes included Ionescu of New York, Stewart of Seattle and Chelsea Gray of the Aces.
More AP Women’s Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports