September 24, 2020
Betnijah Laney is the 2020 Most Improved Player
Atlanta Dream find turned into an elite contributor
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Betnijah Laney #44 of the Atlanta Dream drives to the basket against the Washington Mystics on August 19, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Betnijah Laney is the 2020 Most Improved Player after a breakout season for the Atlanta Dream.
Laney earned 25 of the possible 47 votes, while Myisha Hines-Allen of the Washington Mystics finished second with 21 votes.
After getting waived by the Indiana Fever in June, the Dream signed Laney as a free agent largely because of her track record as a defensive player. With Tiffany Hayes opting out of the season, Dream coach Nicki Collen knew she needed someone to take on a similar defensive role.
She never expected that Laney would end up filling the gap of Hayes’ scoring, too.
In 2019, Laney averaged 5.6 points per game for the Fever — which nearly doubled her previous career high of 2.7. In 2020, Laney blew that mark out of the water with an average of 17.2 points, which just barely ranked second for the Dream behind Chennedy Carter’s 17.4 points per game.
Laney started all 22 games, averaged 33.3 minutes each night, and set new career highs in every statistical category. In addition to the 17.2 points, she averaged 4.9 rebounds, four assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Prior to this season, Laney had never scored more than 20 points in a game. She started the season with a 19-point outing, and she didn’t look back from there. Laney finished with seven 20+ point scoring nights, including two 30+ point games, and had four double-doubles — two with points and rebounds and two with points and assists.
Laney is the second Dream player to win Most Improved Player, joining Elizabeth Williams who took home the honors in 2016.