Following a return from an Achilles injury that wiped out her 2019 WNBA season, Storm forward Breanna Stewart regained her place among the league’s premier players and named the Associated Press comeback player of the year.
Still, Stewart, who was a unanimous pick for the AP All-WNBA first team, isn’t entirely satisfied after leading Seattle to an 18-4 record and the No. 2 playoff seed.
“I would give myself an A-minus or B-plus,” said Stewart, who averaged 19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks. “I’m teetering on two different things. I want to play and when I play I want to be great. I want be at my best and I want to do everything great. When I look at that side of things, I think could have done some things better.
“But then the other side of things, I’m like OK I just came back from an Achilles injury. I’m happy to be able to even get on the court and just function a little bit. I’m back and forth. There’s definitely things I could have done better.”
Stewart also missed the final two regular-season games due to tendinitis in her left foot, but expects to play when the Storm begins postseason play with a best-of-five series in the WNBA semifinals on Sunday.
“My plan is to be ready to go on Sunday,” she said.
The last time Stewart played in the WNBA, she was the league MVP, Finals MVP and AP player of the year while leading the Storm to its third WNBA championship in 2018.
That year, the fourth-year, 6-foot-4 forward averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks.
In many ways Stewart is as dominant as ever. She’s become a better playmaker who facilitates the offense. However, her field-goal percentage has fallen to a career low 45.1%.
“I’m very happy with where I’m at right now and just continuing to appreciate being able to play,” Stewart said.
For the bulk of the season, Stewart had been one of the leading candidates for the AP player of year, which went to Las Vegas star A’ja Wilson.
Wilson, a third-year forward, averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks for the Aces, who are the No. 1 seed.
Los Angeles forward Candace Parker edged Storm forward Alysha Clark and Connecticut forward Alyssa Thomas for defensive player of the year honors. Parker, in her 13th season, received five votes while Clark and Thomas each had four.
Other award winners include Las Vegas’ Dearica Hamby, who repeated as the sixth woman of the year, Minnesota’s Crystal Dangerfield was the runaway winner for rookie of the year, Atlanta’s Betnijah Laney won most improved player honors and Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeves claimed coach of the year accolades.
Stewart and Wilson headline the AP All-WNBA first team that includes Parker, Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot, a product of Kentwood High and Gonzaga, and Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale.
The second team consists of Thomas, Phoenix teammates Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner and Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier.
And Dangerfield highlights the all-rookie team that also includes Dallas’ Satou Sabally, Atlanta’s Chennedy Carter, Indiana’s Julie Allemand and New York’s Jazmine Jones.
The WNBA’s awards will be released over the course of the playoffs.