NEW YORK – The Las Vegas Aces were picked to win the WNBA championship and the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne was selected as the favorite for the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award, according to the 2019 WNBA.com GM Survey. In the 17th annual poll, the WNBA’s 12 general managers assessed the league’s best teams, players, coaches, offseason moves and more.
The complete results of the exclusive survey were posted today at WNBA.com in advance of the league’s 23rd season, which tips off on Friday, May 24. The opening-weekend schedule features the Seattle Storm beginning its title defense against the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday, May 25 on ABC (3:30 p.m. ET) and the Chicago Sky visiting the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday in the first-ever WNBA game on CBS Sports Network (8 p.m. ET).
In the 2019 WNBA.com GM Survey, 33 percent of general managers predicted a championship for the Aces, who did not reach the playoffs last season. The Mercury was the second choice with 25 percent of the vote from the league’s decision makers.
Las Vegas – which acquired 2018 WNBA scoring leader and MVP-runner-up Liz Cambage in a trade and selected Jackie Young with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft – was voted as the team that made the best offseason moves (67 percent). Phoenix (25 percent) also finished second in that category. Cambage was the overwhelming choice as the acquisition who will make the biggest impact (75 percent); the Los Angeles Sparks’ Chiney Ogwumike was second (25 percent).
Delle Donne, the 2015 WNBA MVP, was the top pick for the 2019 MVP (42 percent), one of five players to receive consideration. The Mercury’s Brittney Griner (25 percent) finished second, Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson ranked third (17 percent) and Cambage and the Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones each received one vote.
Other highlights from the 2019 WNBA.com GM Survey:
- The New York Liberty’s Asia Durr and the Dallas Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale shared the top spot for WNBA Rookie of the Year (25 percent each), ahead of Phoenix’s Alanna Smith and Las Vegas’ Young (17 percent each). Smith received 25 percent as the “sleeper” rookie most likely to have success, edging teammate Brianna Turner (17 percent).
- Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, the league’s all-time points leader, topped the list for best shooting guard (67 percent) and the player to take a shot with the game on the line (50 percent). She was also named the player hungriest to win a championship this season (33 percent).
- Griner, the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015, was favored to win that honor (33 percent). Two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard of Los Angeles was the next choice (17 percent). Griner was also the pick as the player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments (42 percent), with Cambage finishing second (33 percent).
- Washington’s Emma Meesseman (33 percent) was viewed as the international player most likely to have a breakout season. Teammate Ariel Atkins shared top honors for breakout player overall, joined by the Chicago’s Diamond DeShields, New York’s Kia Nurse and Las Vegas’ Kelsey Plum (17 percent each).
- Voting for the league’s most underrated player generated a three-way tie among Los Angeles’ Chelsea Gray, the Atlanta Dream’s Tiffany Hayes and Chicago’s Allie Quigley (17 percent each). Quigley was voted the best pure shooter (75 percent) and Hayes was named the most dangerous player in the open floor (25 percent).
- Two new categories – best step-back move and best fade away shot – were included in the 2019 survey. Washington’s Kristi Toliver was seen as having the best step-back (40 percent), followed by Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones and Phoenix’s Taurasi (20 percent each). Washington’s Delle Donne earned the most votes as the player with the best fadeaway shot (30 percent), ahead of New York’s Tina Charles and Los Angeles’ Candace Parker (20 percent each).
- In additional team-related categories, the Dream was the choice for the best defensive unit (58 percent) and the Minnesota Lynx was chosen for the best home-court advantage (33 percent).
- In the coaching categories, reigning WNBA Coach of the Year Nicki Collen of Atlanta led all vote-getters as the best manager/motivator of people (50 percent), followed by Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve (25 percent). Washington’s Mike Thibault, who has won a record 309 regular-season games, was voted the best overall coach (25 percent), ahead of Collen, Seattle’s Dan Hughes and Connecticut’s Curt Miller (17 percent each).
To view the complete results of the survey, click on the following link: https://www.wnba.com/news/2019-gm-survey-season-predictions/.
The 2019 WNBA regular season runs through Sunday, Sept. 8. For more information on the WNBA and game tickets, fans may visit wnba.com.