NEW YORK – Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard has been named the 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player, the WNBA announced today. The five-year veteran is the first Storm player to earn the honor, which was first presented in 2000.
Howard received 29 of 39 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud finished second with four votes. Dallas Wings guard Kayla Thornton and Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot tied for third with two votes each. Las Vegas Aces guards Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum received one vote apiece.
With Howard enjoying a breakout season, the Storm finished a WNBA-best 26-8 to earn the No. 1 seed in the 2018 WNBA Playoffs. Seattle will host the Phoenix Mercury in Game 1 of the Semifinals today at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
In her first season with the Storm, Howard averaged career highs of 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.97 blocked shots (third in the WNBA) and 1.29 steals in 25.6 minutes while starting 33 of the 34 games she played. Last season with the Minnesota Lynx, she averaged 4.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.62 blocks and 0.53 steals in 11.7 minutes while coming off the bench in all 34 of her appearances.
Howard also improved her shooting accuracy this season, raising her field goal percentage to 54.7 from 48.4 and increasing her free throw percentage to 79.8 from 73.3. The 6-2 Howard made 17 three-pointers after hitting a total of four in her previous four seasons combined.
The Storm acquired the 26-year-old Howard in February in a trade with the Lynx. The former Florida State standout spent the previous two seasons with Minnesota and her first two seasons with the Indiana Fever, who selected her with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft.
In honor of being named the WNBA Most Improved Player, Howard will receive $5,000 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.
Below are the voting results for the 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player and a list of past recipients.