As the only website on planet Internet dedicated solely to covering the WNBA, Winsidr felt it was proper to wrap up the 2020 regular season by handing out some hardware. It was an odd and chaotic seven weeks in Bradenton, Florida, but a sense of normalcy was restored by the outstanding basketball being played on a nightly basis in the Wubble. Players had a ton on their minds off the court, yet somehow managed to deliver phenomenal performances with regularity while being model spokespeople regarding issues larger than basketball. It was breathtaking to behold. We’re all lucky to be a part of this marvelous league.
The mighty Winsidr staff, composed of 12 voters, gathered (virtually, of course) to vote on six major awards. Some races were runaways. Others were hotly contested. Without further ado, here are the winners of the 2020 Winsidr Regular Season Awards:
Most Valuable Player – A’ja Wilson
2020 Statistics: 20.5 PTS / 8.5 REB / 2.0 AST / 2.0 BLK
Only Rookie of the Year and 6th Player of the Year were more clear-cut in the eyes of the Winsidr staff. Wilson’s 2020 season was unimpeachable. She played in all 22 games. She was one of two players to average over 20 points per game (along with Arike Ogunbowale) and one of two players to average at least 2 blocks per game (along with Brianna Turner). Wilson’s Las Vegas Aces clinched the top overall seed, going 18-4 – including 2-0 against Seattle – despite not having Liz Cambage or Kelsey Plum present in the Wubble. Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot each received a single vote, but Wilson had this honor on lock.
Rookie of the Year – Crystal Dangerfield
2020 Statistics: 16.2 PTS / 3.6 AST / 2.0 REB
Most basketball fans were perplexed when Dangerfield fell to 16th in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Said fans were validated in a major way this season as Dangerfield took Minnesota’s starting point guard position and ran with it. Dangerfield also took Winsidr’s Rookie of the Year hardware and ran with it, earning 11 of 12 votes. Atlanta’s Chennedy Carter also received a nod. Dangerfield averaged over 16 points per game and did so showcasing a variety of scoring methods: rainbow three-pointers from the parking lot, entertaining off-balance mid-range floaters, strong and unlikely layups, and a 92 percent mark from the free throw line.
Defensive Player of the Year – Alysha Clark
2020 Statistics: 90.9 DRtg (1st*) / 4.8 DWS (1st) / +2.06 D-PIPM (6th) / 1.5 STL
No award had the Winsidr staff more divided than Defensive Player of the Year. Seattle veteran wing Alysha Clark earned the honors with 33 percent of the vote, narrowly beating out Candace Parker and Breanna Stewart, who tied for second place. Described by Diana Taurasi as “a little bodyguard following you around wherever you go,” Clark helped the Storm in posting the league’s best Defensive Rating. While guarding the opponent’s best player, Clark poached a career-high 1.5 steals per game. Her length allowed her to lock folks down on the perimeter and in the post. Napheesa Collier, Alyssa Thomas, Brittney Sykes, and Natasha Howard each received a vote.
*for players over 500 minutes
Most Improved Player – Betnijah Laney
2020 Statistics: 17.2 PTS / 4.9 REB / 4.0 AST / 1.6 STL
Though there were a plethora of deserving candidates for Most Improved Player, this came down to two names in the eyes of the Winsidr staff. Ultimately, Laney (75 percent of the vote) was selected over Washington’s Myisha Hines-Allen (25 percent). Always known for her defensive prowess guarding wings, Laney took a humongous step in 2020, developing a lethal offensive arsenal that kept Atlanta in the playoff picture until the season’s final weekend. The 26 year old averaged 5.6 points per game for Indiana in 2019, then a career-high. She averaged 17.2 in 2020, while also posting career-highs in assists, rebounds, steals, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. This was the definition of a breakout season.
Coach of the Year – Cheryl Reeve
2020 Statistics: 14-8 record / 5.1 NetRtg (4th)
Over 50 percent of the Winsidr staff felt Reeve outcoached her competition in 2020. Entering this season, many had the Lynx on the fringe of the playoff picture. Minnesota ended the season firmly among the league’s elite, earning a first-round bye as the 4th seed. Reeve was dealt many curveballs along the way, namely losing star center Sylvia Fowles to a calf strain. But the coach with the highest winning percentage in league history tinkered until she found the right combinations, entrusting Dangerfield with a starting role and thrusting Bridget Carleton into Minnesota’s crunch time picture. Reeve bested Bill Laimbeer (three votes) and Gary Kloppenburg (two votes).
Sixth Woman of the Year – Dearica Hamby
2020 Statistics: 13.0 PTS / 7.1 REB / 2.7 AST / 1.7 STL
Hamby plays starter minutes, but by virtue of Laimbeer starting Carolyn Swords at center, she essentially serves as a cheat-code for this award. Phoenix’s Bria Hartley received a vote, but the rest of the Winsidr staff was in lockstep behind Hamby. It’s easy to see why. Hamby performed at an All-WNBA level on both sides of the ball, posting career-best marks in points, assists, steals, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. Her 47 percent mark from behind the arc on 1.7 attempts per game was especially impressive. Her defense on some of the league’s best scorers was phenomenal. This was a straightforward selection.