NEW YORK, Aug. 28, 2018 – Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard has been named the 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player, the WNBA announced today. The five-year veteran is the first Storm player to earn the honor, which was first presented in 2000.
Howard received 29 of 39 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud finished second with four votes. Dallas Wings guard Kayla Thornton and Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot tied for third with two votes each. Las Vegas Aces guards Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum received one vote apiece.
With Howard enjoying a breakout season, the Storm finished a WNBA-best 26-8 to earn the No. 1 seed in the 2018 WNBA Playoffs. Seattle will host the Phoenix Mercury in Game 1 of the Semifinals today at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
In her first season with the Storm, Howard averaged career highs of 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.97 blocked shots (third in the WNBA) and 1.29 steals in 25.6 minutes while starting 33 of the 34 games she played. Last season with the Minnesota Lynx, she averaged 4.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.62 blocks and 0.53 steals in 11.7 minutes while coming off the bench in all 34 of her appearances.
Howard also improved her shooting accuracy this season, raising her field goal percentage to 54.7 from 48.4 and increasing her free throw percentage to 79.8 from 73.3. The 6-2 Howard made 17 three-pointers after hitting a total of four in her previous four seasons combined.
The Storm acquired the 26-year-old Howard in February in a trade with the Lynx. The former Florida State standout spent the previous two seasons with Minnesota and her first two seasons with the Indiana Fever, who selected her with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft.
In honor of being named the WNBA Most Improved Player, Howard will receive $5,000 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.
Below are the voting results for the 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player and a list of past recipients.
2018 WNBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER VOTING RESULTS
Player Team Votes
Natasha Howard Seattle Storm 29
Natasha Cloud Washington Mystics 4
Kayla Thornton Dallas Wings 2
Courtney Vandersloot Chicago Sky 2
Kayla McBride Las Vegas Aces 1
Kelsey Plum Las Vegas Aces 1
WNBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER WINNERS
Points Player Team
2018 Natasha Howard Seattle Storm
2017 Jonquel Jones Connecticut Sun
2016 Elizabeth Williams Atlanta Dream
2015 Kelsey Bone Connecticut Sun
2014 Skylar Diggins-Smith Tulsa Shock
2013 Shavonte Zellous Indiana Fever
2012 Kristi Toliver Los Angeles Sparks
2011 Kia Vaughn New York Liberty
2010 Leilani Mitchell New York Liberty
2009 Crystal Langhorne Washington Mystics
2008 Ebony Hoffman Indiana Fever
2007 Janel McCarville New York Liberty
2006 Erin Buescher Sacramento Monarchs
2005 Nicole Powell Sacramento Monarchs
2004 Wendy Palmer/Kelly Miller Connecticut Sun/Indiana Fever
2003 Michelle Snow Houston Comets
2002 Coco Miller Washington Mystics
2001 Janeth Arcain Houston Comets
2000 Tari Phillips New York Liberty