Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson is the 2022 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Tuesday. This is the first time that Wilson has won the award, and she is also the first player in Aces franchise history to do so.
Wilson received 20 votes from a national panel of 56 sportswriters and broadcasters. That was enough to give her the edge in what was a tightly contested race. Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas finished second with 14 votes, while Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart was third with 13 votes. Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), Natasha Cloud (Washington Mystics), Jonquel Jones (Sun) and Allisha Gray all received votes as well.
It's official 🚨@_ajawilson22 is your 2022 #WNBA @Kia Defensive Player of the Year 🙌— WNBA (@WNBA) August 30, 2022
Wilson wins DPOY for the first time in her career and is the first player in @LVAces history to earn this award
Her 1.9 BPG led the league and she ranked 2nd in defensive RPG 👏#MoreThan pic.twitter.com/5uyofjA5sd
Wilson's evolution under new head coach Becky Hammon was primarily discussed in offensive terms, but she made huge strides on the defensive side of the ball as well. The Aces' new small-ball lineups with her at the five worked in large part because of her leadership and versatility. Often, Wilson was the only one holding the Aces' inconsistent defense together.
In addition to leading the league in blocks at 1.9 per game, Wilson also averaged 7.6 defensive rebounds and 1.4 steals. She also finished third in defensive win shares at 2.4 per game, per Basketball-Reference.com. With Wilson leading the way on both sides of the ball, the Aces earned the No. 1 overall seed and won a franchise-record 26 games.
While the league announced that All-WNBA teams will now be positionless, that does not apply for the All-Defensive Teams, which are still organized by position. That is especially notable this season as the top-three finishers for DPOY were all forwards. One of them had to get bumped to All-Defensive Second Team, and it turned out to be Thomas.
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