August 31, 2022 

The Next’s 2022 WNBA Awards: Sixth Player of the Year

Brionna Jones wins it in a walk

Welcome to The Next’s official* 2022 WNBA awards, continuing with Sixth Player of the Year. A panel of 13 of our WNBA beats, analysts, and reporters submitted full awards ballots, selecting their top three candidates for Sixth Player 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.

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With a full vote share of 100% (the percentage of the maximum-possible points a player received), The Next’s 2022 WNBA Sixth Player of the Year is Connecticut’s Brionna Jones. She swept the voting — our first unanimous selection this year — while Chicago backups Azurá Stevens and Rebekah Gardner received significant vote shares and Atlanta’s Aari McDonald slotted in between:

Vote shares for The Next’s 2022 WNBA Sixth Player of the Year

After earning Second Team All-Defense and Most Improved Player honors last year, Jones slid to the bench upon Alyssa Thomas’ return, making one of the best centers in the league a backup. Stevens, too, went from a starting role (started 11 of 12 games post-Olympic break) to the bench after the Sky signed Emma Meesseman, but continued to excel. McDonald played starter-level minutes as effectively the Dream’s top point guard, a constant pressure on both ends. Gardner was an All-Defense contender and a valuable scorer off the catch.

Jones joins Kelsey Plum (2021), Jonquel Jones (2018), and Renee Montgomery (2012) as Sixth Player of the Year winners who were full-time starters in their previous season.

Our voters also shared why they selected Jones:

The case for Brionna Jones

Bri Jones is a masterful defender and a game-changing interior presence, and Connecticut had the luxury of having her enter the game as a reserve… The only WNBA All-Star who didn’t start for their [own] team.

Brionna Jones was a dominant force off the bench for the Connecticut Sun this season, averaging 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 25.1 minutes per game. It’s hard to imagine Jones still coming off the bench next season after she posted similar numbers this season as she did playing more minutes and starting last season. She has provided crucial depth for the Sun this season and her production will continue to be critical as the Sun continue their playoff push.

* Official relative to our preseason and midseason awards. The Next’s 2022 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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