The WNBA officially announced Tuesday afternoon that New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart was named the 2023 Most Valuable Player. In what was the closest MVP race in WNBA history, Stewart beat out Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas and Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson. The voting breakdown is below.
With Alyssa Thomas leading the first-place votes, Breanna Stewart’s second-place votes helped her secure the award. This is now Stewart’s second WNBA MVP award. She was named the league’s MVP in 2018 when she was on the Seattle Storm.
Now there was a strong case for each of the top three candidates to receive the award, each having some of the best performances in league history this season. Unfortunately, the award can only be given to one player. But there has to be a way to honor the other two players. What they’ve done this season just can’t be forgotten about.
Let’s start with Alyssa Thomas and the remarkable season she had. In her second full season since returning from an Achilles injury, Thomas set the bar high, getting the most triple-doubles in a single season ever, setting a new WNBA record with six. She surpassed her own record she set last year of four, giving her 10 total career triple-doubles. The most ever in league history. This was Thomas’ best season as she set career highs across the board. She averaged 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 7.9 assists. Her play this season kept the Connecticut Sun in title contention and they’re currently a couple of wins away from making it back to the WNBA Finals. She’s been on a tear in the playoffs this year as well. In the closeout game against the Minnesota Lynx, Thomas scored or assisted on 58 points for the Sun, the most ever in WNBA history. Hopefully, for the Sun, her high level of play can continue as they’re on the quest for their first championship.
Coming off the best season of her career, A’ja leveled up and had an even better season this year. Regarded as the best player in the league currently by many, she certainly showed us all why this season. After Candace Parker went down to an ankle injury, Wilson turned it up a notch on both ends of the floor, leading the Aces to the best record in WNBA history. In Wilson’s best season to date, she averaged 22.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 2.2 blocks. Wilson was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row and tied the WNBA single-game record for points with 53. Wilson also set a few other records this season. She became the fifth player in WNBA history to score 800 points in a season and became the fastest player to record 3,500 points, 1,500 rebounds, and 300 blocks. There has been no match for her dominance this postseason as she is in route to lead the Aces to yet another finals appearance, looking to repeat as WNBA champions
And then you have the MVP herself, Breanna Stewart, who had a year full of record-breaking. Stewart became the third player to score 800 points in a single season, breaking the previous record of Diana Taurasi’s 860. She set the New York Liberty single-game scoring record with 45 points in just her second game with the team. She set the record for most games with 40 points and 10 rebounds, and the most 40-point games in a season. Stewart tied the Liberty record for double-doubles in a season with 20. Teaming up with budding star Sabrina Ionescu, former MVP Jonquel Jones, and the great Courtney Vandersloot this offseason Stewart took the charge and led the Liberty to a Commissioner’s Cup title and the second-best record in league history. The Liberty saw a drastic improvement from last season. From finishing seventh, to title contender this season, Stewart was a huge part of the Liberty’s success. The Liberty are in the semifinals as they are on the quest to get their first WNBA championship in franchise history.
There have been many debates all season about who deserved the award, but we can all agree on one thing: This has been one of WNBA history’s best MVP races. All three players had worthy cases for the award but only one could be MVP. What these players have done this season has been sensational for the game. And it looks like none of them are slowing down anytime soon, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them in the same predicament next season. These are three future all-time greats reaching the prime of their careers, and we as spectators should be appreciative that we have the chance to see these future legends carve out their legacies in real-time. With the current talent in the league as well as the incoming talent, the WNBA will be in good hands and will be a treat to watch for years to come. By the time it’s all said and done, A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart will have top-five resumes and Alyssa Thomas will forever be in record books for being the triple-double queen. With the semifinals underway, it’ll be interesting to see which one ultimately comes out on top and is crowned this season’s WNBA Champion.