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Seattle’s Natasha Howard Named 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player

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