South Carolina Basketball: A’ja Wilson disrespected by WNBA media in MVP vote

South Carolina basketball alum Aja Wilson has won the WNBA's Western Conference Player of the Month award again. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball alum Aja Wilson has won the WNBA's Western Conference Player of the Month award again. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports /

Aja Wilson is the best player in the WNBA. The best player in the league does not always win the MVP award, however, and that is the reality for the 2023 WNBA season. On Tuesday, the WNBA announced that New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart was voted as the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Stewart was a deserving MVP in most years and in most situations, however, the 2023 WNBA season belonged to Aja Wilson. The betting odds had favored Stewart most of the season but had shifted in favor of Wilson in the last two months as the South Carolina basketball alum turned it on down the stretch without fellow future Hall of Famer Candace Parker.

Wilson outperformed Stewart offensively.

WILSON: 22.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.6 apg on 55.7% shooting and 116.1 OFF Rating, Aces ranked #1 in offense

STEWART: 23 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.8 apg on 46.5% shooting and 112.1 OFF Rating, Liberty ranked #2 in offense

Wilson outperformed Stewart defensively.

WILSON: 2.2 bpg, 1.4 spg, 96.8 DEF Rating (lower is better), Aces ranked #1 in defense

STEWART: 1.6 bpg, 1.5 spg, 99.6 DEF RAting (lower is better), Liberty ranked #2 in defense

The NET Rating for Wilson (overall sum of offensive and defensive value averaged into a number that is compared to league averages) is better than Stewart’s by a fair amount. Wilson’s net rating sits at 19.3, while Stewart’s is 12.5. Player Efficiency Rating (PER) also favors Wilson, 28-27.6.

Aja Wilson led the WNBA in blocks, defensive rating, and team defensive rating while still finishing in the top-5 in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage. Stewart led the league in zero categories. The Aces also set the single-season record for wins (34), demolishing the old mark of 29 wins.

Both Stewart and Wilson broke the all-time single-season scoring record, but neither player finished with the top mark in 2023 (that was Jewel Lloyd of the Seattle Storm). Wilson tied the all-time single-game scoring record with a 53-point outburst in August.

The race was extremely close, but Wilson was more deserving.

Oddly enough, another candidate who was viewed as a distant 3rd in the MVP race finished in second. Alyssa Thomas (a triple-double machine who had a great year) received the most 1st-place votes of them all and finished in 2nd, bumping Wilson to 3rd. Thomas, like Stewart, is a deserving MVP in most seasons, but 2023’s award should have belonged to Aja Wilson.

An unnamed voter selected Wilson as the 4th-most deserving player in the league, a ridiculous decision that should have that voter’s credentials stripped. For reference, the voting margin was so close between the top-three candidates, that had Wilson and Stewart been flip-flopped at that 4th place ballot, Wilson would have won the 2023 WNBA MVP.

It’s worth noting that of the 60-member WNBA MVP voters panel, more voters come from Los Angeles and New York (the city where Stewart plays and is originally from) than anywhere else.

Rightfully, Aja Wilson was selected as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year last week. She won the award in 2022, as well.

Related Story. South Carolina Basketball: Aja Wilson sets another WNBA record. light