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Swish Appeal's 2014 WNBA award picks: Brittney Griner, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi are unanimous All-WNBA selections

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With the 2014 WNBA regular season over, our staff and a couple of other writers from the SB Nation network make their final selections for 2014 awards with only one consensus choice.

Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley was the only unanimous award winner from Swish Appeal's panel.
Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley was the only unanimous award winner from Swish Appeal's panel.
Photo by Getty Images.

Throughout the summer we've had a number of articles and discussions about the league's top candidates for its various post-season awards.

Today, we come together with a few of our colleagues from around the SB Nation-NBA network to present our final selections.

Our panel

  • Albert Lee, Swish Appeal editor (and renowned tankologist)
  • James Bowman, credentialed writer covering the Atlanta Dream for Swish Appeal
  • Kris Habbas, credentialed writer covering the Phoenix Mercury for Bright Side of the Sun
  • Kris Willis, credentialed writer covering the Atlanta Dream for Peachtree Hoops
  • Nate Parham, basketball junkie
  • Pat Friday, Swish Appeal staff writer

And without further ado, our picks.

Most Valuable Player: Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

Name

MVP

Albert

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

James

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

Kris H.

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

Kris W.

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

Nate

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

Pat

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

Comments: Pat and I have discussed our feelings on the candidacy of both Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore in depth a few times and I figured this vote might be tied because Kris definitely figured to go with Taurasi. Instead, he went the decidedly anti-homer route. His explanation:

"This may be borderline criminal from the guy in Phoenix, but Moore is the M.V.P. of the league this year. She is averaging a career-high in points (24.0), rebounds (8.0), steals (1.9), and almost her best mark in assists (3.5) doing everything for this Lynx team. Sure, her team is deep and talented so I am not holding that against Moore, same for Diana Taurasi, but Moore is playing on another level right now. This is special stuff.  Her 12 30+ point games are a record, two 40+ point games in there, and a threat to take over any game at any time."

Rookie of the Year: Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun

Name

RoY

Albert

Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun

James

Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun

Kris H.

Kayla McBride, San Antonio Stars

Kris W.

Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun

Nate

Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun

Pat

Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut Sun

Commentary: I thought this one might come down to Ogwumike and Sims, but Kris remained unpredictable by picking McBride here. His explanation:

"Initially I wanted to vote for Shoni Schimmel in every category - that All-Star Game performance is something that you cannot "unsee". It was a special performance to see live and that plus her regular season is enough to vault her to the top of the rookie class this year. But no rookie has really impacted winning or been transcendentally great this year. It is a good class. But Kayla McBride gets my vote."

Sixth Woman of the Year: Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky

Name

Sixth

Albert

Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky

James

Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky

Kris H.

Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky

Kris W.

Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky

Nate

Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky

Pat

Allie Quigley, Chicago Sky

Commentary: When I posted my list of Sixth Woman candidates a while back, theLaplaceDemon mentioned that "...everything could change by the end of the season." She was right: despite other names being bandied about, Quigley emerged as the clear choice according to our panel.

Looking back at the numbers I had previously, where Quigley soared to the top of the list was her scoring efficiency: long story short, she shot 48.1% from beyond the 3-point line over the last 10 games. But James provided an explanation in plain terms:

"The player that I feel adds the biggest boost off the bench is Quigley, and I've seen her burn unwary teams that have underestimated her.  She also leads all of my candidates (including Stefanie Dolson or Shoni Schimmel) in minutes played this season - the Sky clearly feel that she's their Sixth Woman, and I agree."

Coach of the Year: Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury

Name

Coach

Albert

Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury

James

Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury

Kris H.

Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury

Kris W.

Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury

Nate

Mike Thibault, Washington Mystics

Pat

Sandy Brondello, Phoenix Mercury


Commentary: My defense of breaking from the crowd to pick Thibault: the Washington Mystics would have made the playoffs without an All-Star had Laurel Richie not added Ivory Latta as a replacement. A major reason for that success: a team that allocated more than half its minutes to first and second year players finished third in the league in defensive efficiency, according to Basketball-Reference. Somewhere in that mix is an outstanding coaching job.

But it's impossible to complain about a Brondello pick and who better to explain this one than Kris Habbas, the person who covered the Mercury for SB Nation?

"They were more or less the same team as last year in terms of the top rotation players. Brondello gave this team a focus, an identity, and is a major reason why the Mercury went from 19 wins to 29 with home court advantage in the playoffs. Seeing Coach Brondello work with this group day-to-day, her attention to detail, and preparation it is easy to understand how the Mercury found their potential this year and reached it."

Most Improved Player: Skylar Diggins, Tulsa Shock

Name

MIP

Albert

Skylar Diggins, Tulsa Shock

James

Skylar Diggins, Tulsa Shock

Kris W.

Skylar Diggins, Tulsa Shock

Nate

Skylar Diggins, Tulsa Shock

Pat

Courtney Paris, Tulsa Shock

Commentary: I've already explained why I'm in favor of Diggins and Pat will describe his pick later, but Kris W. summed things up succinctly: "Remarkable turnaround from a disappointing rookie season."

All-WNBA: Griner, Moore, Taurasi are unanimous first team picks

Name

G

G

F

F

C

Albert

Skylar Diggins

Diana Taurasi

Angel McCoughtry

Maya Moore

Brittney Griner

James

Lindsay Whalen

Diana Taurasi

Maya Moore

Sancho Lyttle

Brittney Griner

Kris H.

Diana Taurasi

Angel McCoughtry

Maya Moore

Candace Parker

Brittney Griner

Kris W.

Diana Taurasi

Angel McCoughtry

Maya Moore

Candace Parker

Brittney Griner

Nate

Lindsay Whalen

Diana Taurasi

Maya Moore

Candace Parker

Brittney Griner

Pat

Diana Taurasi

Angel McCoughtry

Maya Moore

Candace Parker

Brittney Griner

All-WNBA First Team picks.

Commentary: The first team really demonstrates how positional concerns create some problems. Voters are asked to pick two guards, two forwards, and a center based on where they started. McCoughtry is conveniently listed as a G-F. Some voters might opt to reserve a spot for a point guard and some people might not immediately consider Taurasi a point guard (in my case, I just happen to think Taurasi and Whalen were the best two guard options).

And obviously those decisions influence what you do with the second team.

Name

G

G

F

F

C

Albert

Lindsay Whalen

Danielle Robinson

Candace Parker

Nneka Ogwumike

Erika de Souza

James

Danielle Robinson

DeWanna Bonner

Candice Dupree

Erlana Larkins

Tina Charles

Nate

Danielle Robinson

Angel McCoughtry

Candice Dupree

Chiney Ogwumike

Erika de Souza

Pat

Skylar Diggins

Odyssey Sims

Candice Dupree

Nneka Ogwumike

Chiney Ogwumike

All-WNBA Second Team picks.

Most of those picks are players we've talked about often, but James' selection of Sancho Lyttle for the first team probably stands out given that nobody else picked her for either team. His defensive player of the year selection helps to explain that.

Defensive Player of the Year: Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Name

DPoY

Albert

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

James

Sancho Lyttle, Atlanta Dream

Kris W.

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Nate P.

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Pat

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Commentary: James pulled an even bigger surprise here by naming Lyttle his Defensive Player of the Year, which helps to explain his All-WNBA pick:

"I'm going against the grain here.  Sancho Lyttle as of this writing is not only the WNBA leader in Defensive Win Shares (Griner is close behind her at 2.7) but she has been remarkably consistent all season even with the Dream's late swoon.  Lyttle is also the choice of espnW and as an Atlanta Dream fan I've seen her unheralded work in the post for some time.  As Michael Cooper said, you lead with defense and I'm leading with Sancho Lyttle for DPOY.  (Griner fans, don't be offended; I won't be troubled at all seeing Griner win.)"

We'll have plenty more on awards throughout this week, but for now tell us who you would select for the above awards in the comments and vote in the poll below.