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New York Liberty's Breanna Stewart wins 2023 WNBA MVP award

New York Liberty's Breanna Stewart wins 2023 WNBA MVP award

New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart has been named the 2023 Kia WNBA Most Valuable Player, the WNBA announced today. 

This is the second Kia WNBA Most Valuable Award for Stewart and the first for a member of the Liberty. Stewart previously earned the honor in 2018 with the Seattle Storm.

Stewart becomes the eighth player in WNBA history to win the award multiple times, joining three-time winners Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes and two-time winners Cynthia Cooper, Elena Delle Donne, Candace Parker and A’ja Wilson.

Stewart received 20 first-place votes, 23 second-place votes and 17 third-place votes from a national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters, earning 446 total points. Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas finished in second place with 439 points (23 first-place votes, 12 second-place votes and 25 third-place votes). Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson, the 2020 and 2022 Kia WNBA Most Valuable Player, was third with 433 points (17 first-place votes, 25 second-place votes, 17 third-place votes and one fourth-place vote).

Players were awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, seven points for a second-place vote, five points for a third-place vote, three points for a fourth-place vote and one point for a fifth-place vote. 

With Stewart and Thomas separated by seven points, this marks the second-smallest margin between the first- and second-place finishers in the history of the award; the closest finish was a two-point difference between MVP Swoopes (327 points) and runner-up Jackson (325) in 2005. The 13 points separating Stewart and Wilson represent the smallest margin between first- and third-place vote-getters for MVP in WNBA history, surpassing the 45-point difference between MVP Parker (234) and third-place finisher Delle Donne (189) in 2013.

In addition, this is the second time in WNBA history that the MVP runner-up received more first-place votes than the award recipient. In 2005, Jackson received 20 first-place votes and Swoopes received 16.

In her seventh WNBA season and first with the Liberty, Stewart averaged 23.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.57 blocked shots and 1.45 steals in 34.1 minutes in 40 games. She ranked second in the WNBA in scoring, third in rebounding, 16th in assists, fourth in blocks and minutes and eighth in steals. The four-time All-WNBA First Team selection also finished second in efficiency (27.6) and third in double-doubles (20).

Behind Stewart, New York (32-8) recorded the second-most wins in a season in league history, posted its largest average margin of victory (13.16) in a season and earned the No. 2 seed in the 2023 WNBA Playoffs presented by Google. The Liberty will continue the pursuit of its first WNBA championship when it hosts the Sun in Game 2 of the Semifinals tonight (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). Connecticut leads the series 1-0. 

The 6-4 Stewart was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for three of the four possible months of the 2023 WNBA season, May, July and August, when New York posted a combined 21-4 record. In addition, she was honored as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week six times.

For the second consecutive year, Stewart was the No. 2 vote-getter in fan voting for the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game, where she captained Team Stewart to a 143-127 victory over Team Wilson. She also helped New York win the third annual WNBA Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase, with the Liberty defeating the Aces 82-63 on the road in the championship game on Aug. 15.

Additional highlights of Stewart’s 2023 season include:

  • Posted her first four regular-season games of 40 or more points, setting a WNBA single-season record and matching Diana Taurasi for the most in a career.
  • Scored a career-high and franchise-record 45 points in 30 minutes in a 90-73 win over the Indiana Fever on May 21, the most points ever by a WNBA player in 30 minutes or fewer.
  • Registered 43 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a 99-95 victory against the Phoenix Mercury on July 5, marking the second game of at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in WNBA history.
  • Became the first player in WNBA history to have at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in a half, doing so in the first half of a 95-84 win over the Atlanta Dream on July 27. 
  • Set single-season franchise records for total points (919) and rebounds (371) and finished with the second-most points in a season by a WNBA player.
  • Became the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 4,000 points (196 games).

Stewart, a native of North Syracuse, N.Y, and a four-time NCAA champion at the University of Connecticut, was selected by the Storm with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm. She signed with the Liberty as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2023 season. Stewart holds career averages of 20.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.50 blocks and 1.36 steals.   

In honor of being named the 2023 Kia WNBA Most Valuable Player, Stewart will receive $15,450 and a specially designed trophy by Tiffany & Co.

Below are the voting results for the 2023 Kia WNBA Most Valuable Player Award:

 

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