NEW YORK – The Las Vegas Aces were picked to win the WNBA championship and the Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart was selected as the favorite for the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award, according to the 2021 WNBA.com GM Survey. In the 18th edition of the 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 historic 25th season, which tips off this Friday, May 14.
In the 2021 WNBA.com GM Survey, 58 percent of the general managers predicted a championship for the Aces, who earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs last season before falling to the Storm in the WNBA Finals. The Chicago Sky and Washington Mystics tied as the second choice with 17 percent each.
Chicago, which signed two-time league MVP Candace Parker as a free agent, topped all vote-getters (75 percent) as the Eastern Conference team that will record the most regular season wins.
Stewart, the 2018 WNBA MVP and reigning WNBA Finals MVP, received 67 percent of the votes as the player most likely to win the MVP award in 2021. The Sky’s Parker and Courtney Vandersloot, the Mystics’ Tina Charles and the Aces’ A’ja Wilson, the reigning MVP, each received one vote. Stewart garnered 83 percent of the votes as the player the GMs would select if they were starting a franchise today and could sign any player. Wilson was second in that category with 17 percent.
Parker was viewed as the acquisition who will make the biggest impact in 2021 (58 percent), topping Natasha Howard (25 percent), who joined the New York Liberty after a trade from Seattle. Chicago’s deal with Parker also was voted as the most surprising move of the offseason (42 percent), with Washington’ signing of Alysha Clark ranking second (25 percent).
The Liberty – which acquired three-time WNBA champion Howard and two-time champ Sami Whitcomb from Seattle and signed 2020 WNBA Most Improved Player Betnijah Laney – earned 50 percent of the vote as the team that had the best offseason restructuring of its roster through free agency and trades, topping the Atlanta Dream and Minnesota Lynx (17 percent each). New York, which looks forward to the return of Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2020 who missed the final 19 games of her rookie season due to injury, also was chosen as the most improved team (42 percent), with Atlanta (33 percent) ranking second.
In a nod to the WNBA’s landmark 25th season, during which WNBA fans will help select The W25 – the league’s 25 greatest players since its inception in 1997 – the current GMs selected their own WNBA Mount Rushmore. Lauren Jackson, a three-time league MVP and two-time champion, led the way with 10 votes. Cynthia Cooper, a four-time WNBA champion and four-time Finals MVP, and Diana Taurasi, the league’s career points leader in both the regular season and postseason, each received eight votes. Three players – WNBA career assists leader Sue Bird, three-time league MVP Lisa Leslie and four-time WNBA champion Maya Moore – tied for the fourth and fifth spots with six votes each.
Other highlights from the 2021 WNBA.com GM Survey:
• Atlanta’s Aari McDonald was the top selection for WNBA Rookie of the Year (25 percent), ahead of the Dallas Wings’ Charli Collier and Awak Kuier and New York’s Michaela Onyenwere (17 percent each). Onyenwere also was one of five players – along with the Connecticut Sun’s DiJonai Carrington, Chicago’s Shyla Heal, Las Vegas’ Destiny Slocum and the Indiana Fever’s Aaliyah Wilson – to tie for the choice as the sleeper rookie most likely to be a success (17 percent each).
• Voting for the player with the greatest hunger to win a championship in 2021 generated a tie between Washington’s Charles and Chicago’s Parker (25 percent each).
• Phoenix’s Taurasi topped the list for best shooting guard (58 percent) and the player the GMs would want to take a shot with the game on the line (58 percent).
• Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale, the WNBA’s leading scorer in 2020, paced all vote-getters as the player who is best at getting her own shot (58 percent).
• Las Vegas’ Chelsea Gray received the most votes (50 percent) as the assist maker who has the most flair, and Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot ranked second (33 percent).
• Las Vegas’ Wilson (42 percent) topped Washington’s Charles (25 percent) as the player with the best post moves.
• Seattle’s Bird led all vote-getters as the active player who would make the best head coach someday (83 percent) and the player with the best basketball IQ (58 percent).
• Connecticut’s Briann January (25 percent) was named the best on-ball defender. Las Vegas’ Liz Cambage and Phoenix’s Brianna Turner shared the honor as the WNBA’s best interior defender (25 percent each).
• Chicago’s Diamond DeShields, Allie Quigley and Vandersloot all were honored. DeShields led all vote-getters as the league’s best 2-3 swing player (46 percent of the 11 votes cast in that category). Quigley was voted as the league’s best pure shooter (42 percent) and Vandersloot was named the top point guard (58 percent).
• In the most underrated player category, Washington’s Ariel Atkins (25 percent) earned the top spot over Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier (17 percent).
• Washington’s Mike Thibault (50 percent) edged Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve (42 percent) as the best coach in the WNBA.
About the WNBA
Entering its 25th season in 2021, the WNBA is a bold, progressive basketball league that stands for the power of women. Featuring 12 teams, the W is a unique sports property that combines competition and entertainment with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and social responsibility. Through its world-class athletes, the in-game fan experience, TV and digital broadcasts, digital and social content and community outreach programs, the league celebrates and elevates the game of basketball and the culture around it.
In 2020, the WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) signed a groundbreaking eight-year CBA that charts a new course for women’s basketball – and women’s sports overall – with a focus on increased player compensation, improvements to the player experience, expanded career development opportunities and resources specifically tailored to the female professional athlete. Key elements of the agreement are supported through the league’s new partnership platform, WNBA Changemakers, with AT&T, the WNBA’s Marquee Partner and inaugural Changemaker, as well as fellow inaugural Changemakers Deloitte and Nike, and the recent addition of Google. During the 2020 season, the WNBA and WNBPA launched the WNBA Justice Movement forming the Social Justice Council with the mission of being a driving force of necessary change and continuing conversations about race and voting rights, among other important societal issues.
For more information, visit WNBA.com.