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It’s a close second for Alyssa Thomas in the race for WNBA’s MVP award

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas finished second in voting for the WNBA’s MVP award on Tuesday.

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas got more first place votes (23) in voting by 60 national sportwriters and broadcasters but New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart was named the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player, the league announced on Tuesday.

Thomas received 23 first place votes while Stewart received 20 first place votes. Stewart beat Thomas by seven points, 436-439. Stewart got the edge with more second place votes than Thomas, 23-12. Two-time league MVP Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson was third with 433 points.

Players earned 10 points for a first place vote, seven for a second place vote and five for third place. It’s just the second time in league history that the MVP didn’t have the most first place votes. In 2005, Seattle’s Lauren Jackson had 20 first place votes but the MVP award went to Houston’s Sheryl Swoopes (16 first place votes).

It was the second-tightest race for MVP in league history. In 2005, Swoopes beat Jackson by two points, 327 to 325.

Stewart, Thomas and Wilson each had MVP-caliber seasons this summer.

“They’re all worthy of (being named) MVP,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said after New York’s 84-77 win over the Sun in game two of their WNBA semifinal. “You’ve seen the greatness of those players. They’re lifting up the whole standard of the league through their greatness and the way they play.”

It may have come down on how voters define the most valuable player award.

Is it the best player in the league? Or the most valuable player to their respective team? There are no hard guidelines for voters on what an MVP is or should be.

This writer, who doesn’t have a vote, would have voted for Thomas. She was the most valuable player to her team in the league. Take her out of the lineup and the Sun don’t have a winning season nor come close to a seventh consecutive WNBA playoff berth.

Take Stewart out of the Liberty lineup or Wilson out of the Aces lineup and they are still loaded. Both are probably still in the playoffs and in the hunt for championships.

But one can’t complain about the selection of Stewart to win the WNBA MVP award for the second time in her career. She won it in 2018 with Seattle. She has been fantastic with the Liberty this season as Wilson has been with Las Vegas, too.

In her seventh WNBA season, Stewart averaged 23.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game. She was second in the league in scoring, third in rebound and fourth in blocks. She is the eighth player in WNBA history to win the award twice.

She became the first player in league history with four games over 40 points in a single season, including  a franchise-record 45 points in a 90-73 win over Indiana in May, the most points in WNBA history in 30 minutes or less.

Playing a team-high 36.1 minutes a game Thomas led the league in total rebounds and total assists. She tied her career-high with 15.6 points a game and had six triple doubles (10 or more points, rebounds and assists) this season, twice getting this milestone achievement in back-to-back games.

It was a tough time in the Sun locker room when news of the award was released by the league on Tuesday.

“No discredit to Stewie because she is the MVP but what Alyssa did this season was unbelievable,” Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner said after the game. “Of course, the news was tough. It was emotional for (Thomas). Tough for our team. But we came out and played for her tonight. It was really an emotional day. That’s our teammate. That’s our leader. That’s our MVP. That’s who we rely on heavily. We love her. It was definitely a tough day, especially for her.”

2023 WNBA MVP voting

Top five finishers 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
Breanna Stewart, New York 20 23 17 0 0 446
Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut 23 12 25 0 0 439
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas 17 25 17 1 0 433
Napheesa Collier, Minnesota 0 0 0 32 13 109
Satou Sabally, Dallas 0 0 0 8 11 35
Players get 10 points for a first place vote, 7 for second, 5 for third place, 3 for fourth place and 1 for fifth place


Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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