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ESPN News ServicesSeptember 12, 2023, 01:22 pm ET3 minute read

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Breanna Stewart wanted to be closer to home after spending her entire WNBA career in Seattle, so she signed with New York as a free agent in a seismic move during the offseason.

The decision has paid major dividends for Stewart and the Liberty.

She finished the regular season second in the league in scoring, averaging a career-high 23 points, and helped New York secure the league’s second-best record. On Tuesday, she became the first player to repeat as The Associated Press Player of the Year.

“Being honored as AP Player of the Year is an incredible honor,” said Stewart, who also won the award in 2018. “It’s pretty different after changing teams and coming to New York and having such a positive season with a 32-8… There’s been some incredible basketball this year and it makes you feel good about making the playoffs.”

Stewart edged out A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas by one vote of all 12 media members. Alyssa Thomas came in third in the voting. Stewart and Wilson finished one-two in last year’s voting and the Aces star won the league’s MVP award.

The WNBA will announce its awards throughout the postseason, which begins Wednesday. The league MVP will be announced on September 26.

“We’re in a special place in women’s basketball when there are so many great players doing so many wonderful things every night,” said Stewart, who is the first three-time winner of the award since voting began in 2016.

Wilson was selected as the AP Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, beating Washington’s Thomas and Brittney Sykes. Wilson anchored the Aces’ defense, averaging 2.2 blocks and 1.4 steals. Las Vegas earned the first seed in the playoffs.

Aces teammate Alysha Clark was chosen as the AP Sixth Woman of the Year. It’s the fourth time an Aces player has won the award: Clark joins Dearica Hamby, who won it twice, and Kelsey Plum. Clark consistently provided a spark on both ends of the floor as she came off the bench for the Aces this season.

For the second year in a row, a former WNBA player won the AP Coach of the Year award, with Connecticut’s Stephanie White receiving the honor. She led the Sun to the league’s third-best record even though the team lost center Brionna Jones to a torn Achilles tendon a month into the season.

Other AP winners:

• Rookie of the Year: Aliyah Boston. She was the Indiana Fever’s number one pick and helped the team double its win total from last year. Boston averaged 14.5 points and 8.4 rebounds on 57.8% shooting from the field.

• Comeback Player of the Year: Brittney Griner and Napheesa Collier. Griner missed all of last year after spending nearly 10 months in a Russian prison. This year she averaged 17.5 points. Collier missed almost all of last season after giving birth to her first child. She averaged 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds to help Minnesota to the sixth seed in the playoffs.

• Most improved player: Satou Sabally. After playing in only 44 games due to injuries in his first three years combined, Sabally was able to stay healthy and played in 38 of the Dallas Wings’ 40 games this season. He averaged a career-best 18.6 points and had 8.1 rebounds.

• All-Rookie Team: Boston was joined on the team by teammate Grace Berger, Minnesota’s Dorka Juhasz and Diamond Miller, Seattle’s Jordan Horston and Atlanta’s Haley Jones.

• All-WNBA Teams: Stewart, Wilson and Thomas were unanimous first-team selections. They are joined on the first team by Seattle’s Jewell Loyd and Las Vegas’ Chelsea Gray. The second team: Jackie Young of Las Vegas; Sabrina Ionescu of New York; Arike Ogunbowale; Sabally and Collier.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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