In the days leading up to the New Year, WNBA.com is reliving the best of the league’s landmark 20th season in its 20 Moments of 2016 series. Check back each day from now until December 31 for more!
20 MOMENTS: WNBA Draft | Breanna Stewart’s Debut | Wings’ First Game in Dallas | Mystics-Sun Triple-OT | Lynx-Sparks Round 1 | WNBA Top 20@20 | Taurasi’s 7,000th Point | Hammon’s Jersey Retired | Jackson’s Jersey Retired | EDD vs. Stewie Duel | Olympians Capture Gold | Swin Cash Night | Pondexter Moves to No. 5 in Scoring | So Long, Penny | Stars Celebrate Duo | Tamika’s Farewell | Angel’s Playoff Showcase | Ogwumike Named MVP | Beard’s Finals Buzzer-Beater | An Epic Finale
As announced live on SportsCenter, Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike was named the 2016 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung. In her fifth WNBA season, Ogwumike received 31 of 39 first-place votes, beating out New York’s Tina Charles to win her first MVP award.
Although she had collected plenty of hardware in her first four years – 2012 Rookie of the Year and three All-Star selections – Ogwumike wasn’t thought to be an MVP candidate heading into the season. She wasn’t even considered the MVP of her own team: Candace Parker had already won the honor twice. Plus, the Sparks were coming off a 14-20 campaign and first-round exit.
THIS JUST IN: Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike named 2016 WNBA MVP. Ogwumike averaged career-high 19.7 points & 9.1 rebounds this season. pic.twitter.com/0kUpkMsXTo
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 27, 2016
Ogwumike’s rise to the top coincided with Los Angeles going 26-8 and earning the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. The Stanford product averaged a career-high 19.7 points per game while shooting a league-best 66.5 percent from the field, the second-highest mark in WNBA history. She also averaged career highs in rebounds (9.1 per game), assists (3.1) and blocks (1.2).