Seattle’s Loyd Overwhelming Choice for Rookie of the Year; Tulsa voted Most Improved
The Minnesota Lynx was picked to win the WNBA championship for the third time in five years and its top star, Maya Moore, was chosen to repeat as WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung in the 13th annual WNBA.com GM Survey. The Lynx, led by Moore and fellow All-Stars Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, and Lindsay Whalen, collected 66.7 percent of the votes as the team most likely to win the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile. The Atlanta Dream, powered by All-Stars Angel McCoughtry, Erika de Souza, and Shoni Schimmel, was selected to win the Eastern Conference.
The complete results of the exclusive survey will be posted today on WNBA.com in advance of WNBA Tip-Off 2015 presented by Boost Mobile. The WNBA tips off its 19th season on Friday, June 5 with five games, capped by a match-up between the San Antonio Stars and the defending champion Phoenix Mercury (10 p.m. ET), which will receive its championship rings beforehand.
WNBA Tip-Off 2015 presented by Boost Mobile will feature 24 games from June 5 through Sunday, June 14, culminating with the launch of ESPN2’s season-long coverage of the WNBA. ESPN2 will debut its schedule of games June 14 with a doubleheader showcasing the league champions from the past three seasons and a multitude of MVPs and All-Stars. The first telecast features Tamika Catchings, the 2011 MVP presented by Samsung, and the Indiana Fever hosting All-Star Elena Delle Donne and the defending Eastern Conference champion Chicago Sky at 1 p.m. ET. The late game features a rematch of the 2014 Western Conference Finals as the Mercury host Moore and the Lynx at 3 p.m. ET.
Moore, Delle Donne, and Catchings, along with veteran All-Stars Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm and Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles Sparks, and rookie Jewell Loyd of Seattle, figured prominently in a number of categories in the GM Survey.
Moore, the 2014 WNBA MVP presented by Samsung, was selected to earn the league’s top individual honor again (66.7 percent, surpassing the 16.7 percent each for Delle Donne and Ogwumike). Moore also was named as the player GMs would select first if starting a franchise today (66.7 percent); the league’s best finisher (33.3 percent); and tied Delle Donne for the top spot as the WNBA’s best pure shooter (25 percent apiece).
Loyd, the No. 1 overall selection in the WNBA Draft presented by State Farm® this past April, received 91.7 percent of the votes for Rookie of the Year, the highest percentage of votes in any category in the survey. She also shared the top spot for the newly acquired player who will make the biggest impact in 2015, tying six-time All-Star Cappie Pondexter (33.3 percent each), who returns to her hometown of Chicago to suit up for the Sky. The trade that brought Pondexter from the New York Liberty to Chicago and sent fellow All-Star Epiphanny Prince to her native New York was tabbed as the most surprising move of the off-season (41.7 percent).
Bird, an eight-time All-Star and two-time league champion, was chosen as the best leader for the sixth time in seven years (41.7 percent) and also was named the player who would someday make the best head coach (75 percent). In addition, she tied with Delle Donne as the player GMs would want taking the last shot with the game on the line (33.3 percent).
For the third straight year, Catchings was designated the toughest player in the WNBA (33.3 percent). She also was tied with Whalen as the player who is best at making her teammates better (33.3 percent each).
Ogwumike was considered the league’s most athletic player (41.7 percent) and best rebounder (33.3 percent). She shared top billing, along with second-year star Kayla McBride of San Antonio, as the player most likely to have a breakout season (16.7 percent each).
Brittney Griner, Phoenix’s 6-8 center and the 2014 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung, was selected as the best interior defender (75 percent) and the player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments (50 percent).
Atlanta’s McCoughtry, who three times has led the Dream to the Eastern Conference crown, was deemed the player with the greatest hunger to win a championship. McCoughtry earned 25 percent of the votes to edge Moore (16.7 percent), who already has won two championships in her four WNBA seasons. McCoughtry also was a repeat selection as the most dangerous player in the open floor (33.3 percent), and was viewed as the player best at creating her own shot (33.3 percent).
The GMs regarded Seattle as the team that made the best offseason moves, earning 33.3 percent of the votes after adding Loyd and No. 3 overall selection Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (the latter with a pick acquired in a trade with the Connecticut Sun). The Tulsa Shock was the overwhelming choice for the team likely to be most improved (83.3 percent). Tulsa, already fueled by the high-scoring guard tandem of All-Star Skylar Diggins and second-year player Odyssey Sims, added 6’5” center Amanda Zahui B. with the second overall pick in the draft.
Additional leaders in the WNBA.com GM survey included:
- Minnesota’s Augustus – her crossover was the single most effective offensive move (41.7 percent)
- New York’s Tina Charles – the player with the best post moves (50 percent)
- New York’s Kiah Stokes – the sleeper rookie most likely to be a success (25 percent)
The coaching category was dominated by Western Conference rivals Minnesota and Phoenix. The Lynx’sCheryl Reeve was voted best head coach (58.3 percent) for the second straight year. Reeve and the Mercury’s Sandy Brondello tied for head coach who is the best manager/motivator of people (33.3 percent each).
Rounding out the survey was a new winner in the category of best home-court advantage. Minnesota (41.7 percent) wrested the mantle from the Storm, which had earned the nod for five consecutive years, and Phoenix finished second (33.3 percent).