September 22, 2023 

A’ja Wilson named 2023 WNBA DPOY, headlines All-Defensive teams

A'ja Wilson wins second consecutive WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, headlines 10-player defensive selections for 2023.

For the second year in a row, A’ja Wilson is the Kia WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Las Vegas Aces center received 32 of 60 media votes, followed by Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas in second place with 24 votes. Washington’s Brittney Sykes and the Liberty’s Betnijah Laney also received votes.

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Wilson and the record-setting Aces led the league in defensive rating (97.7) and are second in both points allowed (80.3) and opponent field goal percentage (42.6%). Wilson led the league in blocks with 2.2 per game, alongside 1.4 steals per game and 9.5 rebounds, 7.5 of which were defensive.

Her blocked shot and rebounding averages are both career highs as she continues to become more daunting for opponents in the post. She uses her combination of strength, athleticism, and precise timing to be an excellent shot-blocker and defensive playmaker.

Equally important has been her ability to stay in the game, allowing no breaks for opponents. She plays 30.7 minutes per game, averaging only 2.1 fouls, which comes out to only 2.8 fouls per 40 minutes, which ranks 12th among players to play at least 1,000 minutes, a significant accomplishment for a rim protector.

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Joining Wilson on the WNBA All-Defensive First Team are Alyssa Thomas, Jordin Canada and Brittney Sykes, all of whom are receiving their second first-team selections, and Breanna Stewart, who is receiving her third first-team selection. Canada (2.3), Sykes (2.1), and Thomas (1.8) were the top three leaders in steals per game, with Thomas (9.9) and Stewart (9.3) rounding out the top three rebounders with Wilson.

The Second Team was comprised of Betnijah Laney, Ezi Magbegor, Nneka Ogwumike, Napheesa Collier, and Elizabeth Williams.

For the first time in league history, selections were made without accounting for players’ positions. As a result, only two players (Sykes and Canada) of the ten selected were true guards (Laney is listed as a guard-forward). More than half of the selections were over 6’2. Even as a guard, Sykes is known for her athletic emphatic rejections against much taller players.

As we head into the semifinals, fans will continue to see A’ja Wilson match up against significant offensive talent and size in the post, first with Teaira McCowan of the Wings. Thomas and Stewart will face off on the other side of the bracket, as all three continue the race for MVP.

Written by Cameron Ruby

Cameron Ruby has been a contributing writer for The Next since April 2023. She is a Bay Area native currently living in Los Angeles.

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