2020 WNBA awards: A’ja Wilson wins MVP; Candace Parker takes home Defensive Player of the Year

The 2020 WNBA playoffs are in full swing, and we’ve already seen multiple buzzer beaters, including Alysha Clark’s putback to give the Seattle Storm a thrilling Game 1 win over the Minnesota Lynx in the semifinals. In the other series, the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun are tied up at 1-1.

Along with the playoffs, it’s also now awards season. So far, the has league announced all of its major honors: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Sixth Woman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player. In addition, the league will also announce the All-WNBA Teams and All-Rookie Team.

Here’s a rundown of the award winners that have been announced so far:

MVP: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

Averaging 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and two blocks per game, Wilson led the Aces to an 18-4 record, and the No. 1 seed. As a result, she ran away with MVP, falling four votes shy of winning the award unanimously. Now in her third season, Wilson has won MVP, Rookie of the Year and made two All-Star Games. Over the next month, she’ll try to add WNBA champion to that resume, as she leads into the Aces in the playoffs. 

ROY: Crystal Dangerfield, Minnesota Lynx

Dangerfield made history, becoming the first second-round pick to win Rookie of the Year. Putting up 16.2 points and 3.6 assists per game, Dangerfield led the Lynx in both categories, and finished second and first, respectively, among rookies. She was a huge part of the Lynx’s success this season, stepping up in the absence of star center Sylvia Fowles, who went down with a calf injury, and helping Minnesota finish in fourth place. 

Defensive Player of the Year: Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

Candace Parker added another accolade to her historic career on Thursday, when she was named the Defensive Player of the Year. While Parker has previously made multiple All-Defensive Teams, this is the first time that she’s won DPOY. With the versatile Parker leading the way, the Sparks had the third-best defense in the league this season, allowing 98.8 points per 100 possessions. Parker averaged 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game this season, and in doing so was one of only five players to put up at least a block and a steal per game. 

Coach of the Year: Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx

With Maya Moore sitting out again, Seimone Augustus off to Los Angeles and Sylvia Fowles out injured for much of the season, Reeve faced a unique challenge leading a Lynx team without any members of the core that won four championships last decade. It turned out not to be too much of a problem, though, as Reeve guided the Lynx to a 14-8 record, and a fourth-place finish that was their best since 2017. This is the third time Reeve has won Coach of the Year, tying a WNBA record. 

Sixth Woman of the Year: Dearica Hamby, Las Vegas Aces

This one wasn’t a surprise. Aces forward Dearica Hamby is the Sixth Woman of the Year, taking 44 out of 47 possible votes to become the third player in league history to win this award in two straight seasons. She put up 13 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game, setting new career-highs in all of those categories save for rebounding. Hamby could easily start, and actually does play starter-level minutes for the Aces, but has grown comfortable in her role as their game-changing sixth woman. 

Most Improved Player: Betnijah Laney

Even in a unique season that has had many memorable moments, Betnijah Laney stood out. In her first season with the Dream, she made a leap no one saw coming, averaging 17.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, four assists and 1.6 steals per game, while shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point land. All of those numbers were career-highs, and it wasn’t a case of simply getting way more playing time. She played only about seven more minutes per game this season than last, yet raised her scoring by over 10 points per game. 

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