The 2019 WNBA Finals are finally upon us. At the end of the regular season, the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun finished first and second place, respectively, in the league standings, and now these two teams will be competing for the WNBA Championship.
For the 2019 WNBA Season Awards, each award recipient was well deserved. Leilani Mitchell was named the WNBA Most Improved Player for the second time in her career, becoming the first player in WNBA history to earn the award more than once. This year’s recipient for Rookie of the Year was Napheesa Collier of the Minnesota Lynx. Collier was picked sixth overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft and graduated from UConn.
For the rest of the superstar rookies, the All-Rookie Team consisted of Napheesa Collier (Lynx), Teaira McCowan (Indiana Fever), Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings), Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces), and Brianna Turner (Phoenix Mercury). From the Aces, Dearica Hamby was named the Sixth Woman of the Year. Natasha Howard of the Seattle Storm won the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
This year’s WNBA All-Defensive First Team consisted of Natasha Howard (Storm), Jonquel Jones (Sun), Nneka Ogwumike (Sparks), Jasmine Thomas (Connecticut Sun), and Jordin Canada (Storm). The All-Defensive Second Team Second Team consisted of Brittney Griner (Mercury), Ariel Atkins (Mystics), Alysha Clark (Storm), Alyssa Thomas (Sun), and Natasha Cloud (Mystics).
This season’s coach of the year was James Wade of the Chicago Sky. Peak Performer Awards go to those who lead the league in scoring, rebounding or assists. This year’s Peak Performer Awards were Brittney Griner (scoring average), Jonquel Jones (rebounding average) and Courtney Vandersloot (assists average). For the 2019 WNBA Regular season, the Most Valuable Player went to Elena Delle Donne of the Mystics.
The WNBA, with only 12 teams, operates the postseason differently than the NBA. For the NBA, each conference takes the best eight teams. In the WNBA, regardless of what conference you are in, the WNBA playoffs only take the best eight teams in the entire WNBA league. Each round doesn’t get the luxury of having best-of-7 to finish a round. The first and second round are single-elimination games, while the semi-final and final rounds are best of five matchups. The first and second seeds get a bye from both elimination rounds, and the third and fourth seeds get a bye from the first elimination round.
In the first round, No. 5 Chicago Sky defeated the No. 8 Phoenix Mercury, 105-76. Diamond Deshields’ 25 points and Courtney Vandersloot’s 11 assists sent Brittney Griner and the Mercury home. No. 6 Seattle Storm defeated the No. 7 Minnesota Lynx, 84-74. Jordin Canada’s career high of 26 points and a boost of Jewell Loyd’s 22 points were enough to push the Storm to the next round.
In the second round, No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks defeated No. 6 Seattle Storm, 92-69. Candace Parker’s double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds alongside Chelsea Gray’s 21 points and 8 assists and Nneka Ogwumike’s 17 points and 6 rebounds was enough to get them to the next round. No. 4 Las Vegas Aces, defeated the No. 5 Chicago Sky, 93-92. The 2019 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, Dearica Hamby, almost broke the internet with her steal and 35-foot game winner against the Sky. Liz Cambage led the Ace with her double-double, 23 points and 17 rebounds.
In the semi-final round, No.2 Connecticut Sun swept the No.3 Los Angeles Sparks: 84-75, 94-68, and 78-56. NBA superstar and now Sparks’ head coach, Derek Fisher, benched his star players during the semi-final round, as he knew there was nothing more the Sparks could do to save the series, which stirred up a lot of conversation ESPN’s talk shows.
The No.1 Washington Mystics had to go to a Game 4 in Las Vegas to finish out the series. Emma Meeseman made sure that the series did not extend to a fifth game by scoring 13 of her 22 points in the 4th quarter to silence the Vegas crowd.
The WNBA Finals between the Mystics and Sun will occur throughout the week.