Congratulations to the Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson, winner of the 2023 KIA WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award for the second-straight season.
Wilson captured 32 of 60 votes from a panel of media members. Finishing second for a second-straight season was the Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas, who earned 24 votes. With three votes, the Washington Mystics’ Brittney Sykes was third. The New York Liberty’s Betnijah Laney also received one vote.
Dominant all season long!— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) September 22, 2023
League Leader in blocks, defensive win shares and defensive rating.
Introducing your back-to-back @WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, @_ajawilson22 #ALLINLV pic.twitter.com/p8KLgJhKsY
Wilson followed up her first Defensive Player of the Year campaign with a similarly spectacular encore effort, approximating her averages for defensive rebounds and steals per game while jumping to a league-leading 2.2 blocks per game. When she was on the court, the Aces’ WNBA-best defensive rating of 97.7 improved to 96.8, with both marks representing improvements on 2022’s numbers.
A’ja already is legendary
With a second-straight Defensive Player of the Year honor, Wilson added her name a legendary list of back-to-backs winners: Alana Beard (2017-18), Brittney Griner (2014-15), Tamika Catchings (2005-06, 2009-10), Sheryl Swoopes (2002-03) and Teresa Weatherspoon (1997-98). In just her sixth WNBA season, a second Defensive Player of the Year award also granted her entry into an even more exclusive club, as she joins Swoopes and Lisa Leslie as the only players to win multiple MVPs and DPOYs.
A'ja Wilson joins @airswoopes22 and @LisaLeslie as the 3rd player in WNBA history to be named Defensive Player of the Year and regular season MVP multiple times each.— Across the Timeline (@WBBTimeline) September 22, 2023
Sheryl Swoopes: 3x MVP, 3x DPOY
Lisa Leslie: 3x MVP, 2x DPOY
A'ja Wilson: 2x MVP, 2x DPOY
In short, Wilson is so elite that she not only is competing against her contemporaries on the court, but also measuring herself against the accomplishments of her predecessors.
Wilson already approaching the upper echelon of WNBA annals because she does not cease to put in the work. Coming off a MVP, DPOY and championship, no one would have faulted Wilson if she chose to ease into the 2023 season. Instead, she came back better. That she improved on the defensive end is particularly impressive, as defensive effort often is most susceptible to slippage. Wilson, however, maximized the intersection of her peak athletic gifts and growing defensive intelligence to further establish herself as the pre-eminent defensive force in today’s WNBA.
One testament to her defensive presence comes from her record-matching 53-point game. After praising Wilson and her offensive explosion, Aces head coach Becky Hammon also made sure to credit Wilson’s defense, saying, “She was really good on the defensive end, the rim protection. She was just everywhere.”
In 2023, Wilson was everywhere on the court. She’s also already everywhere in WNBA history.