Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne has been named the 2019 WNBA Most Valuable Player, the WNBA announced on Thursday.
Delle Donne's superlatives in 2019 included being voted to the WNBA All-Star Game for the sixth time and sweeping all three Eastern Conference Player of the Month honours. Already one of the most decorated players in WNBA history, she had a career year that saw her become the first WNBA player to join the exclusive 50/40/90 club, where she shot 51.5% from the field, 43% from the three-point line and a league-high 97.4% from the free-throw line. She is the first player in WNBA history to win MVP honors with two different teams after doing so in 2015 with Chicago.
But with just hours to go before her team's Game 2 semi-final match against the Aces, Delle Donne said she was keeping her focus squarely on bringing home a maiden WNBA trophy to Washington.
Engelbert said, "I have only known Elena Delle Donne for a short time, but I can tell you that I'm extremely impressed with her leadership and impact ... we're very fortunate to have her in the league. Her accolades and stats stand for themselves".
Delle Donne was traded to the Mystics before the 2017 season.
"It's a huge thing", Delle Donne said (per ESPN). "This game kind of epitomized it because she didn't have a good shooting game and yet people are running to double-team her and she's finding someone else".
The Mystics didn't disappoint, and scored a 103-91 win over the Las Vegas Aces, setting up an elimination game Sunday in Vegas in the best-of-five series.
How she played in Game 2 may have been unfamiliar for some that were watching, but not for those in the Mystics locker room.
Delle Donne was the runaway victor, receiving 41 of 43 first-place votes for a total of 420 points, according to a source.
Kelsey Plum added 19 points and 10 assists for Las Vegas, which fought back from an 11-point second-quarter deficit to take a brief lead in the third, only to fade late. Brittney Griner (Phoenix), Jonquel Jones (Connecticut), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles), and Natasha Howard (Seattle) rounded out the top five.
In her basketball career, Delle Donne has dealt with Lyme disease and back issues. So, you know, there is bias in the WNBA. "Before, I felt like I was just a scorer and wasn't making my teammates better around me".