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 development. 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 broadly thought of the 2 greatest gamers on the planet. Whereas long-time superstars Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, and Sylvia Folwes enter the ultimate phases 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 through the bubble season of 2020. There’s a case to be made that every of enjoying the most effective ball of their lives this season.
With apologies to Kelsey Plum, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Courtney Vandersloot, and Alyssa Thomas, this 12 months’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 suitable 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 along with her being the most effective participant on the league’s greatest group, but it surely’s additionally a lot deeper than that. Wilson has been severe strides on each ends of the ground this 12 months, which is type of wonderful when you think about that she was already a consensus top-three participant within the league.
Offensively, Wilson’s large enchancment has come as an out of doors shooter. Former coach Invoice Laimbeer wouldn’t let her take threes: she tried solely two photographs behind the arc in her first 4 WNBA seasons. This 12 months, Wilson is 30-of-81 from deep, good for an especially respectable 37 p.c. The additional area she’s dropped at the Aces’ offense has allowed Vegas guards Plum and Jackie Younger to every get pleasure from the most effective seasons of their careers. Wilson already may deal with the ball like a guard. Now that she will shoot like one, her offense is nearly 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 all around the ground. Her 58.1 p.c true taking pictures can also be a profession excessive.
Wilson has additionally taken a giant 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 charge (27.7 p.c, a four-point leap from her earlier excessive), steal charge (2.4 p.c, up from 1.4 p.c), and block charge (5.9 p.c, up from 5.4 p.c). Wilson is so large 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 along with her ranginess is a significant benefit for Vegas.
Wilson is so large, so sturdy, and so expert. Now that she’s taking pictures threes and making strides defensively, there’s principally nothing anybody can do to cease the 6’4 large. 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 without end when she collided with Brittney Griner in a Euroleague sport 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 12 months’s playoffs with a left foot damage, however she’s been again and higher than ever this season. Getting ready to her twenty eighth birthday, Stewart has totally 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 may get buckets enjoying both finish of the pick-and-roll because the ball handler and screener. The numbers communicate 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 nicely, leveraging the specter of her personal scoring to arrange straightforward buckets for others. Her 18.3 p.c help charge is the second greatest mark of her profession. Maybe most spectacular of all, Stewart rarely turns the ball over. She has a microscopic 6.1 p.c turnover charge, particularly contemplating her sky-high 29 p.c utilization charge.
Stewart can also 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 more durable than the offensive block. Whereas her shot blocking and rebounding numbers are at career-lows this 12 months, she is posting a career-best 2.8 p.c steal charge.
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 probably 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 simply rising after this 12 months.
Our WNBA MVP choose: Breanna Stewart
I wouldn’t be stunned 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 kind 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 hardly ever 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 most effective participant on the planet. There’s no incorrect reply between Wilson and Stewart, however we’re going with the legend-in-the-making for the Storm.