Congratulations to the New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart, who was named the 2023 KIA WNBA Most Valuable Player for the second time in her career.
Stewart prevailed in the closest first through third place MVP vote in league history, with her 446 total points edging out the Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas’ 439 points and the Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson’s 433. Thomas actually finished with the most first-place votes (23), while Wilson received the most second-place votes (25). The Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier and Dallas Wings’ Satou Sabally rounded out the top five finishers.
Previously named MVP in 2018, Stewart turned in the most productive scoring season of her seven-year career in 2023, scoring a career-high 23.0 points per game. She also scored the second-most points in a single season in WNBA history, with 919. Career-best production from the free throw and 3-point lines helped Stewart elevate her offensive output in her first season in New York. Stewart also is the first player in Liberty franchise history to be named MVP.
"The most exciting part about this is the ability to have more conversations around multiple players and show how great we are at a lot of different things."— espnW (@espnW) September 26, 2023
- Breanna Stewart after winning MVP pic.twitter.com/kWC5PVjob4
In the 2023 offseason, Stewart arguably made them most monumental free agency decision in WNBA history, leaving the Seattle Storm after six seasons—and two titles—to form a super team in her home state with the Liberty.
Despite the extra attention and subsequent pressure that came with such a league-shaking choice, Stewart mostly seemed unbothered and unfazed as she put together the finest season of her professional career. While much of her value to the Liberty derived from how she, as a former MVP and two-time champion, injected the franchise with championship credibility, it also stemmed from her calm, measured and quiet confidence. Stewart’s attitude infused her team, allowing the Liberty to navigate a somewhat uneven start to the season before refining into one of the most efficient offenses in WNBA history on their way to a 32-8 record, the best winning percentage in franchise history.
Reflecting on her MVP honor in context of the Liberty’s season, Stewart shared:
To be able to come to a franchise like the Liberty and make an impact this quickly, it’s unbelievable. It’s something that is really difficult to do. In the beginning, there were bumps along the way, but we continued to trust the process and grind out wins and do whatever I had to do to help this team get the win.
Stewart, of course, had many loud moments on the court. In only her second game sporting seafoam green, she announced her arrival in New York, scoring a career-high 45 points in only 30 minutes of action. It was the first of her WNBA-record four games of at least 40 points. These efforts and others helped her earn six Eastern Conference Player of the Week awards and three of the possible four Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards.
What a year for WNBA @Kia MVP @breannastewart— WNBA (@WNBA) September 26, 2023
➡️ 23.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.57 BPG, 1.45 SPG
➡️ Most 40-PT games in a szn
➡️ Most PTS scored in 30 min or less in WNBA History (45)
➡️ 2nd in scoring & efficiency
➡️ 3rd in rebounding & double-doubles#KiaMVP #MoreThanGame pic.twitter.com/atNS3fKODJ
Oftentimes, Stewart made such stellar play seem routine, a notion she was sure to correct after the announcement of the award, stating:
I want to be great every time I step on the floor, and that’s something that I pride myself on in my career, is bringing greatness wherever I am, whether that’s on and off the court. I think sometimes it’s a little bit taken for granted what I can do, the ability to play multiple positions, so for myself to have this year, but the team to have such a tremendous year and everybody else to see that, that’s where the relief came from. I’m just proud of myself and really want to share this moment with everyone.
The assured excellence that earned Stewart a second MVP will be needed to lead the Liberty to the first title in franchise history. Although Stewart certainly deserves the individual accolade, it is the ultimate honor—a championship—that will determine the success of New York’s superteam experiment.