Basketball followers are used to heated MVP debates by now. The final two seasons within the NBA have produced an amazing quantity of discourse a few two-headed MVP race between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, with Jokic successful the award each occasions. This season within the WNBA is following the identical pattern. Whereas there are many nice gamers across the W, there are solely two severe candidates for MVP. The vote couldn’t be nearer.
Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson are extensively thought of the 2 greatest gamers on the planet. Whereas long-time superstars Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, and Sylvia Folwes enter the ultimate levels of their careers, Stewart and Wilson are every firmly of their primes. Each have already got one MVP award on their resumes, with Stewart’s coming in 2018, and Wilson successful in the course of the bubble season of 2020. There’s a case to be made that every of taking part in the very best ball of their lives this season.
With apologies to Kelsey Plum, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Courtney Vandersloot, and Alyssa Thomas, this yr’s MVP award goes to both Stewart or Wilson. Who ought to get it?
The case for A’ja Wilson as 2022 WNBA MVP
The Aces are in pole place to enter the WNBA playoffs because the No. 1 seed of their first season beneath head coach Becky Hammon. Whereas Hammon has pushed all the precise buttons within the wake of Liz Cambage’s departure from the group (after which the league), the largest motive for Las Vegas’ success stays Wilson.
Wilson’s case begins together with her being the very best participant on the league’s greatest group, however it’s additionally a lot deeper than that. Wilson has been severe strides on each ends of the ground this yr, which is sort of superb when you think about that she was already a consensus top-three participant within the league.
Offensively, Wilson’s huge enchancment has come as an out of doors shooter. Former coach Invoice Laimbeer wouldn’t let her take threes: she tried solely two pictures behind the arc in her first 4 WNBA seasons. This yr, Wilson is 30-of-81 from deep, good for a particularly respectable 37 p.c. The additional area she’s delivered to the Aces’ offense has allowed Vegas guards Plum and Jackie Younger to every take pleasure in the very best seasons of their careers. Wilson already may deal with the ball like a guard. Now that she will shoot like one, her offense is sort of unstoppable. She is second within the league by averaging 32.4 factors per 100 possessions, and he or she’s making a career-best 52.1 p.c of her two-pointers. Principally, Wilson has realized to stretch out the opposing protection whereas additionally getting extra environment friendly everywhere in the flooring. Her 58.1 p.c true taking pictures can be a profession excessive.
Wilson has additionally taken an enormous step up defensively as she’s slid from the 4 to the 5 after Cambage’s departure. She’s posted a career-bests in defensive rebound fee (27.7 p.c, a four-point soar from her earlier excessive), steal fee (2.4 p.c, up from 1.4 p.c), and block fee (5.9 p.c, up from 5.4 p.c). Wilson is so huge and quick that she has a knack for breaking into the passing lanes, pushing the ball downcourt, and ending with a layup at different finish. Having a middle together with her ranginess is a serious benefit for Vegas.
Wilson is so huge, so sturdy, and so expert. Now that she’s taking pictures threes and making strides defensively, there’s mainly nothing anybody can do to cease the 6’4 huge. There’s just one different participant on the planet with an opportunity to measure up.
The case for Breanna Stewart as 2022 WNBA MVP
Breanna Stewart’s historic profession may have modified endlessly when she collided with Brittney Griner in a Euroleague recreation and tore her Achilles in April of 2019. Stewart missed the entire 2019 WNBA season rehabbing, however returned within the 2020 bubble to steer her Seattle Storm to a championship by sweeping Wilson and the Aces.
Stewart missed final yr’s playoffs with a left foot harm, however she’s been again and higher than ever this season. On the point of her twenty eighth birthday, Stewart has absolutely returned to kind from her accidents and has reasserted herself as some of the dominant particular person gamers within the historical past of the game.
Stewart is unstoppable as a scorer. She is an elite high-volume three-point shooter, making 39.3 p.c of her triples on 8.7 makes an attempt per 100 possessions (Wilson makes an attempt about 4 threes per 100). She’s lethal in isolations, and might get buckets taking part in both finish of the pick-and-roll because the ball handler and screener. The numbers converse for themselves: Stewie leads the league by averaging 36.5 factors per 100 on astounding 60.1 p.c true taking pictures. She’s an incredible playmaker for her teammates, as properly, leveraging the specter of her personal scoring to arrange simple buckets for others. Her 18.3 p.c help fee is the second greatest mark of her profession. Maybe most spectacular of all, Stewart infrequently turns the ball over. She has a microscopic 6.1 p.c turnover fee, particularly contemplating her sky-high 29 p.c utilization fee.
Stewart can be one of many league’s smartest defensive gamers. She’s nice at stepping into the passing lanes for steals, can present supplemental rim safety as a shot-blocker, and has all the time hit the defensive glass tougher than the offensive block. Whereas her shot blocking and rebounding numbers are at career-lows this yr, she is posting a career-best 2.8 p.c steal fee.
Stewie additionally has an edge within the superior stats. She leads Wilson (and the league) in PER, 29.4 to twenty-eight.3. She leads the league in win shares, topping the second-place Wilson 7.3 to six.3. She’s essentially the most environment friendly offensive participant on the planet given her immense workload. Stewart has all the time been on an all-time path with 4 NCAA championships in 4 years at UConn, two WNBA championships, and a WNBA MVP. Her resume is just rising after this yr.
Our WNBA MVP choose: Breanna Stewart
I wouldn’t be shocked if Wilson wins it. She’s definitely a deserving candidate, and the Aces having a greater report than Seattle may play into it. Her improved three-point taking pictures is the form of factor that tends to sway voters.
I’m nonetheless going with Stewie although due to her astounding offensive effectivity. She’s the league’s greatest scorer, she not often turns the ball over, she’s a greater passer and a greater shooter than Wilson, and he or she merely leaves the largest influence on successful of any participant within the sport.
The Aces are the championship favorites, however Stewie is the very best participant on the planet. There’s no improper reply between Wilson and Stewart, however we’re going with the legend-in-the-making for the Storm.