Menu Close

2019 WNBA Season Awards (Updated): For the second time, Leilani Mitchell is the Most Improved Player

Although the 2019 season was initially defined by the superstar players that were missing — Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird among others — this season has come to be defined by the players that stepped up in their absences.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the front-runners for season awards include these particular players.

The 2019 WNBA Peak Performers, announced Sept. 9, are exactly the same as 2017’s. Plus, 2015 MVP Elena Delle Donne (then with the Chicago Sky, now with the Washington Mystics) seems poised to collect her second such honor. But some awards are still up in the air.

Rookie of the Year, a wide-open race since the beginning of the season, is now definitively a two-woman affair between the Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier and the Dallas Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale.

Most Improved Player could go in several directions, too. Will voters select a second-year player like Jordin Canada, a breakout Sixth Woman of the Year candidate like Dearica Hamby or a seasoned veteran like Leilani Mitchell (2010’s MIP)?

Here are the season awards that have been announced as of Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019:


WNBA Peak Performers

The Peak Performers are the season leaders in points, rebounds and assists per game.

Phoenix Mercury v Chicago Sky
Brittney Griner
Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Scoring: Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury (20.7 points per game)

Rebounds: Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun (9.7 rebounds per game)

Assists: Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago Sky (9.1 assists per game, WNBA record)


Coach of the Year: James Wade, Chicago Sky

Chicago Sky v Connecticut Sun
James Wade
Photo by Khoi Ton/NBAE via Getty Images

In his first season at the helm of the Sky, Wade unlocked the potential of a roster full of stars and turned a 10th-place team into a fifth-place, playoff-bound team. Wade is the Sky’s first-ever Coach of the Year.


Defensive Player of the Year: Natasha Howard, Seattle Storm

New York Liberty v Seattle Storm
Natasha Howard
Photo by Scott Eklund/NBAE via Getty Images

Key stats:

  • 74 steals (league leader), 2.2 steals per game (2nd)
  • 59 blocks (3rd), 1.7 blocks per game (2nd)
  • 6.1 defensive win shares (league leader)

All-Defensive Teams

First Team

Connecticut Sun v Phoenix Mercury
Jonquel Jones
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images
  • Natasha Howard, Seattle Storm
  • Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun
  • Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks
  • Jasmine Thomas, Connecticut Sun
  • Jordin Canada, Seattle Storm

Second Team

Atlanta Dream v Washington Mystics
Natasha Cloud
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
  • Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
  • Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics
  • Alysha Clark, Seattle Storm
  • Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun
  • Natasha Cloud, Washington Mystics

Sixth Woman of the Year: Dearica Hamby, Las Vegas Aces

Connecticut Sun v Las Vegas Aces
Dearica Hamby (right)
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Key stats:

  • Came off the bench in 25 of 34 games played
  • 11.0 points per game (4th on Aces)
  • 7.6 rebounds per game (2nd on Aces)
  • 1.0 steal per game (2nd on Aces)
  • 48.8 percent shooting (2nd on Aces)

Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award: Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks

This award is named after Houston Comets player Kim Perrot, who died of cancer in 1999 after playing on the first two WNBA championship teams. It goes to “a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court, including ethical behavior, fair play and integrity.”

Seattle Storm v Los Angeles Sparks
Nneka Ogwumike
Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

In Ogwumike’s sixth season as an All-Star, she led the Sparks in points (16.1 per game), rebounds (8.8), steals (1.9) and field goal percentage (51.0). She was one of 12 players to receive votes, collecting seven of the 43, and is the first player who joined the WNBA after 2003 to win the award.


Rookie of the Year: Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx

Minnesota Lynx v New York Liberty
Napheesa Collier
Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images

Key stats:

  • Started all 34 games
  • 33.3 minutes per game (league leader)
  • 13.1 points per game (2nd among rookies)
  • 6.6 rebounds per game (2nd among rookies)
  • 1.9 steals per game (1st among rookies, led Lynx)
  • 0.9 blocks per game (2nd among rookies)

All-Rookie Team

The All-Rookie Team is selected by the 12 WNBA coaches, who select five players of any position but are not allowed to vote for their own.

Indiana Fever v Dallas Wings
Arike Ogunbowale
Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images
  • Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx
  • Teaira McCowan, Indiana Fever
  • Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas Wings
  • Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces
  • Brianna Turner, Phoenix Mercury

Most Improved Player: Leilani Mitchell

The only player to win twice, Mitchell also took home the award in 2010.

Phoenix Mercury v Atlanta Dream
Leilani Mitchell
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Key stats:

  • 27 games started (0 in 2018)
  • 30.4 minutes per game (career-high)
  • 12.8 points per game (career-high)
  • 44.1 percent shooting (ties 2010 career-high)
  • 3.0 rebounds per game (career-high)
  • 4.0 assists per game (career-high)

This story was originally published on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 4 p.m. ET, and will be updated with the names of award recipients as they are announced.