October 1, 2023 

The Next’s 2023 WNBA Awards: Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie Team

A shocking turn of events as Aliyah Boston sweeps the vote

Welcome to The Next’s official* 2023 WNBA awards, continuing with Rookie of the Year. A panel of 19 of our WNBA beats, analysts, and reporters submitted full awards ballots, selecting their top three candidates for Rookie of the Year. We use the NBA’s method of scoring ballots, where players receive five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote, and one for a third-place vote. (The WNBA only asks for one name per ballot in its official voting, which can skew how we think of runners-up.)

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With a perfect 100% vote share (the percentage of the maximum possible points a player received), The Next’s 2023 WNBA Rookie of the Year is Indiana’s Aliyah Boston. She swept first-place voting, while also being one of two unanimous All-Rookie Team selections. Minnesota’s Diamond Miller was the other, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting with a majority of second-place votes, while the Lynx’s Dorka Juhász edged-out Seattle’s Jordan Horston for third place.

Vote shares, where 100% = unanimous No. 1 vote, 60% = average of No. 2 per ballot, 20% = average of No. 3

Joining the Boston-Miller-Juhász-Horston quarter on the All-Rookie Team was the Storm’s Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu. The Fever’s Grace Berger and Los Angeles’ Zia Cooke missed by one vote each:

Boston was an impact player from day one, averaging over 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal per game. She joins Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker and Breanna Stewart as the only true rookies to do so, per Across The Timeline. Boston was also named a 2023 All-Star starter, becoming the fourth Fever player to earn the distinction.

Boston is the first Fever Rookie of the Year selection since Catchings in 2002. (Tan White (2005), Natalie Achonwa (2015) and NaLyssa Smith (2022) also received votes, per ATT.) She also joins Parker, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne and A’ja Wilson as unanimous Rookie of the Year selections; each of those four went onto win an MVP award, and all but Charles won multiple. 

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Our voters also shared why they selected who they did atop their ballot and on their All-Rookie Teams:

The Rookie of the Year case for Aliyah Boston

She’s going to either make or just barely miss All-WNBA honors as a rookie. In a year where several other award choices were agonizing, this one was automatic.

This may have been the easiest vote I’ve ever cast. And I voted in the 2020 presidential election.

The All-Rookie case for Diamond Miller

The raw numbers for Diamond Miller are impressive at face value for a rookie — roughly 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and one steal in 26 minutes per game — and even though her shooting was concerning, there are reasons to think Miller is on a star trajectory. Her pull-up game looks far smoother and her playmaking ability is more expansive than at Maryland, both quite advanced for a first-year player. An easy All-Rookie selection in any year.

The All-Rookie case for Dorka Juhász

Dorka Juhász not only provided solid play on both ends for a Lynx team that surprised many, but exceeded the expectations of many within her own organization with how polished she was from Day One.

The All-Rookie case for Jordan Horston

Horston may have been one of the least efficient players in the league as a rookie, but that doesn’t stop her from earning an All-Rookie honor — in large part because of her defense. The 6’2 wing is one of the best defensive prospects in recent memory, coupled with flashes as a second-side creator and elite athletic tools as a driver.

The All-Rookie case for Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu

Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu [was] on my All-Rookie team because of her production and growth throughout the season. She started 21 of the 33 games she played in and shot 52.8% from the floor. Though her playing time varied across the season she averaged 4.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 14.2 minutes per game.

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The All-Rookie case for Grace Berger

Berger should be a no-brainer All-Rookie pick: her minutes have increased every month, as her steady passing has earned her more time to build comfort as a scorer. Per Her Hoop Stats, she ranked above the 60th percentile in true-shooting and above the 75th in assist-to-turnover ratio. She continued to gain comfort throughout the course of the season and proved versatile and switchable across multiple guard positions.

The All-Rookie case for Zia Cooke

[Zia Cooke] averaged 4.8 points and was extremely efficient during her time on the court. She never played more than 25 minutes in a game this season, but had eight double-digit performances. … Her rookie debut was a great look into her potential in the league.

* Official relative to our preseason and midseason awards. The Next’s 2023 WNBA Most Improved Player award is as official as The AP’s, which is to say it won’t show up on Across The Timeline.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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