– Minnesota’s Maya Moore Seen as WNBA MVP Favorite; Atlanta Named Most Improved Team –
NEW YORK, May 16, 2018 – The Los Angeles Sparks were picked to win their fourth WNBA championship, while the Minnesota Lynx’s Maya Moore was selected as the favorite for WNBA Most Valuable Player, according to the 2018 WNBA.com GM Survey. In the 16th annual poll, the WNBA’s 12 general managers assessed the league’s best teams, players, coaches, offseason moves and more.
The complete results of the exclusive survey were posted today at WNBA.com, in advance of WNBA Tip-Off 2018 presented by Verizon. The WNBA tips off its 22nd season on Friday, May 18 with WNBA career points leader Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury playing host to three-time All-Star selection Skylar Diggins-Smith and the Dallas Wings at 10 p.m. ET on NBA TV.
Highlighting opening weekend is #WNBAAllDay on Sunday, May 20, when all 12 teams will be in action. Sunday’s schedule includes four games streamed live on Twitter as well as a Finals rematch between the 2017 WNBA champion Lynx and the Sparks at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2. This will be only the second time in WNBA history that all teams will play on the same day within the first three days of the season (the other time was on the third day of the 1999 season).
In the 2018 WNBA.com GM Survey, 33 percent of the GMs predicted a title for the Sparks, who won championships in 2001, 2002 and 2016. Last year, Los Angeles lost a dramatic, five-game Finals series to Minnesota, which has won four championships in the last seven seasons. The Lynx was the general managers’ second choice to win the 2018 title, receiving 25 percent of the vote.
Moore, the 2014 WNBA MVP, was the top pick for the 2018 MVP with 33 percent of the vote, one of eight players to receive consideration. The Mercury’s Brittney Griner (17 percent) finished second, followed by six players who each received one vote – the New York Liberty’s Tina Charles, the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne, Diggins-Smith, the Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones, Los Angeles’ Nneka Ogwumike and the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart. Moore also took top honors as the player the GMs would want taking a shot with the game on the line (58 percent).
Atlanta was recognized as the most improved team (50 percent) and the one that made the best offseason moves (50 percent) after signing veteran free agents Renee Montgomery and Jessica Breland and re-signing two-time WNBA scoring leader and four-time All-WNBA selection Angel McCoughtry, who sat out the 2017 season to rest. Dallas was the runner-up in both categories after adding 6-8 center Liz Cambage, a 2011 WNBA All-Star who last played in the league in 2013.
McCoughtry finished atop the general managers’ list in multiple categories, including the player who is most dangerous in the open floor (50 percent) and the player best at creating her own shot (42 percent).
A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces, the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm, was the clear favorite to earn WNBA Rookie of the Year honors, receiving 83 percent of the vote. Teammate Kelsey Plum tied with Atlanta’s Brittney Sykes (25 percent each) for the player most likely to have a breakout season.
Seattle’s Sue Bird and Stewart and Phoenix’s Griner and Taurasi figured prominently in several categories in the GM Survey.
Bird, who last year tied Tamika Catchings for the most WNBA All-Star Game selections (10), received the most votes as the best leader (75 percent), the player with the highest basketball IQ (67 percent) and the best at making her teammates better (58 percent). She also tied with Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot as the league’s best passer (42 percent each). Stewart, the 2016 WNBA Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 2017, was tabbed as the player the GMs would start a franchise with if they could sign any player (42 percent).
Griner was selected as the player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments (42 percent) and as the likely Defensive Player of the Year (33 percent). Taurasi was named the best guard (67 percent) and tied with Chicago’s Allie Quigley, winner of the three-point contest at the 2017 WNBA All-Star Game, as the league’s best pure shooter (33 percent each).
Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen, who will also serve as head coach of the women’s team at the University of Minnesota while playing for the Lynx this season, was voted by GMs as the active player who would make the best head coach someday (50 percent). Whalen’s current coach, two-time WNBA Coach of the Year Cheryl Reeve, led all vote-getters as the best overall coach (50 percent) and as the top manager/motivator (33 percent), finishing ahead of No. 2-ranked Brian Agler of Los Angeles in both categories.
In additional team-related categories, the Sun was tabbed as the WNBA team that is the most fun to watch (50 percent) and as the Eastern Conference team likely to post the best regular-season record (75 percent). The GMs also voted the Lynx as the team with the best home-court advantage (92 percent) for the fourth year in a row.
To view the complete results of the survey, click on the following link: http://www.wnba.com/news/2018-gm-survey-best-players-coaches/.
The 2018 WNBA regular season runs through Aug. 19. For more information on the WNBA and game tickets, fans may visit wnba.com.