– Chicago Sky’s Delle Donne Picked to Repeat as WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung –
– Seattle Storm’s Stewart Overwhelming Choice for Rookie of the Year; Storm Most Improved Team –
NEW YORK, May 12, 2016 – The Phoenix Mercury was picked to win its second WNBA championship in three years and the Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne was chosen to repeat as WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung, according to the 14th annual WNBA.com GM Survey. The Mercury, bolstered by the return of former league MVP and Finals MVP Diana Taurasi to a lineup that includes 2015 All-Stars DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree and Brittney Griner, collected 58 percent of the votes as the team most likely to win the WNBA Finals presented by Verizon. The defending champion Minnesota Lynx was second with 17 percent.
The complete results of the exclusive survey will be posted on WNBA.com today, in advance of WNBA Tip-Off 2016 presented by Verizon. The WNBA tips off its 20th season on Saturday, May 14 with five games, highlighted by an ESPN telecast showcasing a matchup between the Lynx and the Mercury (7:30 p.m. ET), rivals who met in the Western Conference Finals in each of the past three seasons. WNBA President Lisa Borders will present Minnesota with its championship rings before the game.
Delle Donne, Taurasi and fellow former league MVPs Maya Moore of Minnesota (2014) and Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever (2011) figured prominently in a number of categories in the GM Survey, as did veteran All-Stars Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm and Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream, and rookie Breanna Stewart of Seattle.
While Delle Donne (50 percent) finished ahead of Taurasi (33 percent) and the Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker (17 percent) in the general managers’ MVP prediction, Taurasi was named the player GMs would want taking a shot with the game on the line (42 percent; ahead of Moore’s 33 percent). Taurasi also was voted the WNBA’s best guard (75 percent); toughest player (42 percent); best player at creating her own shot (42 percent); and the best pure shooter (33 percent).
Catchings, who is entering her 15th and final season and ranks second on the WNBA’s career lists for points and rebounds, was chosen as the top player at making her teammates better (50 percent). She also shared the title of best leader with Taurasi (33 percent apiece). Moore was named best finisher and the player whom GMs would select first if starting a franchise today (42 percent in each). Bird, a nine-time All-Star and two-time league champion, was voted the player to one day make the best head coach (67 percent) and the player with the best basketball IQ (42 percent).
Stewart, the No. 1 overall selection in the WNBA Draft presented by State Farm® last month, was picked to be WNBA Rookie of the Year presented by Samsung (75 percent) and the player acquisition who will make the most impact in 2016 (33 percent; ahead of the 17 percent apiece for the Sparks’ Chelsea Gray and New York Liberty’s Shavonte Zellous).
Griner, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung, received 92 percent of the votes as the best interior defender in the WNBA, the most in any category of the survey. She also earned the top spot as the player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments and the player most likely to be Defensive Player of the Year (58 percent in each). McCoughtry, who has led the Dream to three Eastern Conference titles, was tabbed as the most dangerous player in the open floor (67 percent) and the league’s most athletic player (42 percent).
Seattle’s Jewell Loyd, the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year presented by Samsung, took the crown as the player most likely to have a breakout season (25 percent). The Washington Mystics’ Emma Meesseman received the most votes as the WNBA’s most underrated player (17 percent).
Rounding out the survey were various team and coaching categories.
The GMs predicted Seattle to be the most-improved team (50 percent) after drafting Stewart, the first four-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player in NCAA history. The Connecticut Sun, however, was deemed to have made the best offseason moves (50 percent), which included draft acquisitions Morgan Tuck, a four-time NCAA champion at the University of Connecticut; Minnesota’s Rachel Banham, the Big Ten’s career points leader; and Jonquel Jones, the George Washington forward seen as the sleeper rookie most likely to be a success (42 percent).
Best home-court advantage went to Minnesota for the second year in a row (75 percent). The Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve and Mercury’s Sandy Brondello, winners of the WNBA Coach of the Year honor in 2011 and 2014, respectively, tied for best coach in the GM Survey with 25 percent each.
Additional leaders in the WNBA.com GM survey included:
- New York’s Tina Charles – the player with the best post moves (42 percent)
- Indiana Fever – the Eastern Conference team that will have the most regular-season wins (50 percent)