A Sixth Woman is a player who comes off the bench with difference-making, if not superstar-caliber skills. She can jolt a stagnant offense or lead a team in making a defensive stand. As the 2010s wind to a close, Swish Appeal reflects on the WNBA’s Sixth Women of the Year. Of the eight women who won the award this decade, DeWanna Bonner and Allie Quigley repeated for the award. Two players on the list went on to win WNBA championships.
DeWanna Bonner, 2010, 2011
2010 season averages
12 points (46.5 percent field goal, 35.8 percent 3-point, 84 percent free throw), 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 blocks
DeWanna Bonner opened the decade by winning her second straight Sixth Woman of the Year award. Her first came during her rookie season. In 2011, Bonner made it a three-peat for Sixth Woman of the Year honors. After coming off the bench for three seasons, Bonner entered the starting lineup in 2012 and two years later helped her Phoenix Mercury to the 2014 WNBA Finals win.
Renee Montgomery, 2012
2012 season averages
11.6 points (34.8 percent field goal, 36.4 percent 3-point, 84.8 percent free throws), 2.6 assists, 1.9 rebounds, 1 steal
Montgomery’s shooting percentages may not dazzle, but her contributions off the bench in 24 minutes per game provided needed relief for the Connecticut Sun starters. Montgomery could be relied upon to fill her roll night in and night out, making steady contributions for the Sun offense.
Riquna Williams, 2013
2013 season averages
15.6 points (39.7 percent field goal, 38.1 percent 3-point, 90 percent free throws), 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1 steal
After a solid rookie season the prior year, Williams needed just two more minutes of playing time per game as a sophomore to make significant increases in every statistical area. Those strides weren’t enough to help the Shock win championships during her tenure, or to keep the franchise in Tulsa. Williams now plays for the Los Angeles Sparks.
Allie Quigley, 2014, 2015
2014 season averages
11.2 points (44.4 percent field goal, 38.7 percent 3-point, 87.9 percent free throws), 2.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists
In 24.8 minutes per game, Quigley modeled efficiency off the bench. Although her Chicago Sky couldn’t get past the Mercury in the 2014 Finals, Quigley had another strong year in 2015 — good enough for a repeat of the Sixth Woman award. When frontcourt stars Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles departed for other teams, Quigley moved into the starting lineup in 2017.
Jantel Lavender, 2016
2016 season averages
9.6 points (53.8 percent field goal, 68.3 percent free throws), 3.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Efficient shooting off the bench is what the Los Angeles Sparks needed and in Jantel Lavender that’s exactly what they got. In fewer than 20 minutes per game, Lavender consistently made the scoring contribution determined by her role. In a big year for the L.A. franchise, Nneka Ogwumike was named 2016 league MVP, the Sparks won the championship and Candace Parker was named Finals MVP.
Sugar Rodgers, 2017
2017 season averages
10.5 points (33.9 percent field goal, 34.2 percent 3-point, 81.5 percent free throws), 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists
Rodgers’ shooting percentages may underwhelm, but she infused the New York Liberty with energy off the bench, and that doesn’t show up in the box score. Rodgers has keen court vision and is a master at revving the pace and pressuring the ball. She averaged 25.6 minutes per game in 2017 and started in 15 of the 33 games she played.
Jonquel Jones, 2018
2018 season averages
11.8 points (55 percent field goal, 46.7 percent 3-point, 67.1 percent free throws), 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 blocks
Jones and her Connecticut Sun came up just short of beating the Phoenix Mercury in their 2018 second-round, single-elimination game for a chance at a deeper playoff run but Jones was a big part of helping the team get that far. The following year, with Jones in the starting lineup, the Sun put together another commanding season, finishing second in the league behind the Washington Mystics, who the Sun forced to five games in the 2019 WNBA Finals.
Dearica Hamby, 2019
2019 season averages
11 points (48.8 percent field goal, 32.1 percent 3-point, 71.8 percent free throws), 7.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists
The heave that saved the Las Vegas Aces’ season made Hamby immediately highlight-reel worthy. But that singular play does not define Hamby’s skills. The “Hamby Heave” serves as evidence of what fans already know — that the woman who would be named the Sixth Woman of the Year is as gritty as they come. She’s a master of creating something out of nothing. And while the Aces were figuring out how to best utilize the A’ja Wilson-Liz Cambage frontcourt tandem, Hamby kept the team in wins.