Breanna Stewart the second Storm player to win MVP
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart was named the 2018 Most Valuable Player by the WNBA on Sunday.
The news came hours before the first game of the Storm’s semifinal series against the Phoenix Mercury.
The results were a landslide, with Stewart receiving 33 of the 39 first-place votes. Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage collected four first-place votes, with Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne earning the remaining two.
As the voting would indicate, Stewart was widely expected to win MVP.
She averaged 21.8 points per game, second only to Cambage, while finishing third in rebounds (8.4), eighth in steals (1.4) and seventh in blocks (1.4).
A deeper dive into the numbers shows just how great Stewart has played this year. According to Basketball Reference, she’s one of five players to average at least 21 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Cambage, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Lauren Jackson were the others.
On offense, Stewart epitomized the modern floor-stretching forward in her first two seasons in the league and then reached new heights in 2018. There was simply no one way to guard her with any great success over the course of a game.
Stewart was a 41.5 percent shooter from three point range. According to Synergy Sports, she also shot 56.2 percent on post ups, with her 1.132 points per possession putting her in the top 11 percent of the league in that regard. Overall, Stewart averaged 1.156 points per offensive possession, which were highest among all WNBA players.
In different circumstances, Cambage would’ve supplanted Stewart as the odds-on favorite. The Australian international set a single-game scoring record (53 points) and almost single-handedly lifted the Wings to the playoffs.
But Dallas’ second-half slide all but ended Cambage’s MVP hopes. The team lost 10 of its final 11 regular-season games before a 101-83 defeat to the Mercury in the opening round of the postseason.
The Storm, on the other hand, finished with the league’s best record (26-8), winning the second-most games in franchise history. Stewart was a large part of that, and it’s scary to think how much room the 23-year-old can improve in the seasons ahead.