A’ja Wilson Earned The 2020 WNBA MVP As Award Winners Were Announced

The WNBA announced its first three major awards for the 2020 regular season on Thursday, as A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces was named league MVP after leading her team to the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs in her third season. In addition, Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx earned Coach of the Year honors for the third time in her career, while No. 16 overall pick Crystal Dangerfield, also of the Lynx, became the franchise’s second consecutive Rookie of the Year.

Wilson beat out Breanna Stewart of the Storm for MVP honors this year, as Las Vegas narrowly beat out Seattle for the first seed in the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. Stewart, the 2018 MVP, missed the final two games of the season, which may have pushed Wilson over the edge among a national panel of 47 reporters and broadcasters. Wilson averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks this season as a dominant force inside for the Aces.

This trophy is the latest of many for the 24-year-old, who won an NCAA championship and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in 2017 as well as Rookie of the Year just two seasons ago. Wilson also was an All-Star in each of her first two WNBA seasons. After All-Star center Liz Cambage opted out and starting guard Kelsey Plum rupture her Achilles’ tendon, Wilson led the thinned-out Aces to an 18-4 record in the WNBA Bubble, receiving 43 of 47 possible first-place votes.

Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot, who set a new WNBA record with 10.0 assists per game this season, was the only player besides Wilson and Stewart to earn a first-place vote.

Reeve won a tight race for Coach of the Year, earning 25 of 47 votes — edging out Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer who got 17 votes– after leading the Lynx to the fourth seed in the league following the departure of the legendary Seimone Augustus and in spite of prolonged absences by 2019 All-Stars Sylvia Fowles and Odyssey Sims. Among those that Reeve built around with those two out this season was Crystal Dangerfield, who earned Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 16.2 points and 3.6 assists per game, starting 19 games for Minnesota, in a sensational inaugural campaign for the 16th overall selection.

The former UConn star becomes the first second-round draft pick in league history to win Rookie of the Year. Dangerfield ran away with the ROY race, taking home 44 of the 47 first place votes. Fourth overall pick Chennedy Carter of the Atlanta Dream finished second with two votes, while Satou Sabally of the Dallas Wings received one vote.

The awards were announced Thursday afternoon on ESPN’s The Jump.