May 13, 2021
WNBA GMs big on Aces and Breanna Stewart
Las Vegas chosen to win the title and the Storm forward predicted to take MVP in survey
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According to a survey taken by the league’s general managers on Thursday, the Las Vegas Aces, who feature the star combo of A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage, are the favorites entering the 2021 WNBA season.
The Aces received 58 percent of votes with the Chicago Sky and Washington Mystics each receiving 17 percent. The Los Angeles Sparks (8 percent) were the only other team to receive any votes.
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart did a little better than the Aces by getting 67 percent of the MVP votes. The non-Stewart voters were evenly split between Washington’s Tina Charles, Chicago’s Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot, and Wilson, the reigning MVP. Charles’ teammate, Elena Delle Donne, who was the 2019 MVP and is one year younger than Charles, did not receive any votes, perhaps because she will miss some games early on while rehabbing in the aftermath of back surgery.
Nneka Ogwumike of the Sparks and rising star Brianna Turner of the Mercury tied for first in Defensive Player of the Year voting, while the Minnesota Lynx are expected to be the best defensive team overall.
The New York Liberty, who added a versatile two-way forward in Natasha Howard and a breakout 2020 star in Betnijah Laney and return 2020 No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu from an injury are expected to be the most improved team.
Another great two-way player with a lethal 3-point shot, Ariel Atkins of the Mystics, was selected as the most underrated player in the league. Her coach, Mike Thibault was honored as the best coach, even ahead of four-time champion Cheryl Reeve, who came in second.
Parker, who left the Sparks in favor of the Sky, was voted as the offseason acquisition who will make the biggest impact.
Seattle’s Sue Bird easily won player with the highest basketball I.Q. and player who would someday make the best head coach.
Charles, who is widely considered the most accomplished active player without a WNBA title, tied with Parker in the hungriest for a championship vote. Parker won a title with LA in 2016, but in recent years has been on underachieving teams.
Diana Taurasi of the Mercury was named the best player to take a shot with the game on the line, but, despite often being called the GOAT, did not receive the most votes to be on the WNBA’s Mount Rushmore. Storm legend Lauren Jackson tallied 10 votes in that category to lead the way, while Taurasi and former Houston Comet Cynthia Copper each received eight votes and Bird, former Spark Lisa Leslie and active but sitting out Lynx forward Maya More each received six.
The Mystics were voted the most fun team to watch.
The 2021 WNBA season tips off at 7 p.m. ET on Friday when the New York Liberty takes on the Indiana Fever on NBA TV.