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Leilani Mitchell Named 2019 WNBA Most Improved Player

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.



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



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