NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2019 – Phoenix Mercury guard Leilani Mitchell has been named the 2019 WNBA Most Improved Player, the WNBA announced today. The 11-year veteran has won her second Most Improved Player award and become the first player in WNBA history to earn the honor multiple times. She was also selected as Most Improved in 2010 as a member of the New York Liberty.
Mitchell received 27 of 43 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Minnesota Lynx guard Odyssey Sims finished second with five votes. Seattle Storm teammates Jordin Canada and Mercedes Russell tied for third with three votes each, followed by Indiana Fever guard Erica Wheeler with two votes.
The 5-5 Mitchell averaged career highs of 12.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 30.4 minutes in 32 games this season, making her most starts (27) since the 2011 season. Last season, she averaged 4.4 points, 2.3 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 14.9 minutes in 31 games for the Mercury.
Mitchell shot 44.1 percent from the field this season, equaling her career high and finishing well above last season’s mark of 35.1 percent. She also lifted her three-point accuracy to 43.0 percent from 34.1 percent in 2018, with this season’s figure ranking third in the WNBA. Mitchell sank a career-high 74 three-pointers, exceeding her total from the previous two seasons combined (67).
On July 30, Mitchell made eight three-pointers against the Washington Mystics, matching the WNBA single-game regular-season record at the time. Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell broke the record by hitting nine three-pointers against the Connecticut Sun on Sept. 8.
Behind Leilani Mitchell and WNBA All-Stars DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner, Phoenix reached the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.
In honor of being named the WNBA Most Improved Player, Mitchell will receive $5,000 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.
Below are the voting results for the 2019 WNBA Most Improved Player and a list of past recipients.
2019 WNBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER VOTING RESULTS
Player Team Votes
Leilani Mitchell Phoenix Mercury 27
Odyssey Sims Minnesota Lynx 5
Jordin Canada Seattle Storm 3
Mercedes Russell Seattle Storm 3
Erica Wheeler Indiana Fever 2
Alysha Clark Seattle Storm 1
Natasha Howard Seattle Storm 1
Aerial Powers Washington Mystics 1
WNBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER WINNERS
Points Player Team
2019 Leilani Mitchell Phoenix Mercury
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