WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the second time in her career, Washington’s Elena Delle Donne has been voted the WNBA’s MVP, a league source told ESPN.
An official announcement is expected Thursday morning, and Delle Donne will receive her award from WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert before Game 2 of the semifinals Thursday night at the Mystics’ Entertainment and Sports Arena.
“She hasn’t been that far off from being an MVP her other years, either,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. “When you win it once, and then get it again — and you’re still getting better — you have to be considered one of the best of all time.”
Delle Donne was the runaway winner, receiving 41 of 43 first-place votes for a total of 420 points, according to a source. Phoenix’s Brittney Griner was second with 167 points, followed by Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones (145), Los Angeles’ Nneka Ogwumike (128), Seattle’s Natasha Howard (121) and Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot (81). Vandersloot got the other two first-place votes, a source said.
Players earned 10 points for a first-place vote, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth. Delle Donne’s other two votes were for third place, while Griner had the most second-place votes with 16, a source said.
Delle Donne won her other MVP award in 2015 when she was with Chicago, the team that drafted her No. 2 in 2013 out of Delaware. She is the first Mystics player to be MVP, and also the first to win the award with two different teams.
She is the sixth WNBA player to be named MVP more than once, joining three-time winners Lauren Jackson (Seattle), Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles) and Sheryl Swoopes (Houston) and two-time winners Cynthia Cooper (Houston) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles).
“It’s a huge thing,” Delle Donne said of winning the MVP again. “It’s something that, when my career is over, maybe I’ll look back on it and brag to my kids or grandkids.”
This year, the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne, who turned 30 earlier this month, led the Mystics to a 26-8 regular-season record and the top seed in the WNBA playoffs. She became the first WNBA player to have a 50/40/90 season, with her shooting percentage at 51.5 overall, 43.0 from behind the arc, and 97.4 at the foul line. She made 114 of 117 free-throw attempts.
Delle Donne was second in the league in scoring at 19.5 points per game. She averaged 8.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocked shots per game.
In Tuesday’s 97-95 Game 1 victory over Las Vegas, Delle Donne had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists. Her turnaround fadeaway shot with 32.9 seconds left ended up being the winning basket.
Delle Donne was traded to the Mystics before the 2017 season. She led Washington to the WNBA Finals last year, where the Mystics lost to Seattle. Delle Donne had to play that series with a bone bruise to her knee that she’d suffered during the semifinals. She also played with that injury in helping the U.S. team with the World Cup last year shortly after the WNBA Finals.
In her basketball career, Delle Donne has also dealt with Lyme disease and back issues. This season, though, she’s been mostly healthy, save some lingering knee soreness early on and a broken nose suffered July 7. She’s played with a mask ever since then, but it hasn’t slowed her down.
Thibault credits for the work she’s done getting stronger since coming to the Mystics, and said that’s one of things that has elevated her play on defense.
“We did things in the weight room that she took immediately to the court,” Thibault said. “The things you see from her are a product of a great player who’s been willing to work hard to improve.”