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WNBA Awards 2021: Jonquel Jones Takes Home MVP, Curt Miller wins Coach of the Year

By Donnie Woods, 09/28/21, 11:45AM CDT

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Sun center Jonquel Jones has won the 2021 WNBA MVP award

Sun center Jonquel Jones has won the 2021 WNBA MVP award

Sun center Jonquel Jones has won the 2021 WNBA MVP award, the league announced Tuesday. This is the first WNBA Most Valuable Award for Jones, who was the 2018 WNBA Sixth Player of the Year and 2017 WNBA Most Improved Player.​

Jones won the award after receiving 48 of the 49 first-place votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner finished in second place with 224 points (one first-place vote).  Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, the 2018 WNBA Most Valuable Player, finished in third place with 156 points.  Finishing in fourth and fifth place, respectively, were Minnesota Lynx center and 2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles (137 points) and Washington Mystics center and 2012 WNBA MVP Tina Charles (127 points).

In her fifth WNBA season, Jones averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.26 blocked shots and 1.26 steals in 31.7 minutes in 27 games.  The 6-6 forward led the WNBA in rebounding and defensive rebounding (8.7 drpg) and ranked fourth in scoring and 10th in blocks.  Her efficiency rating of 25.4 was second only to Griner (26.0).

Jones was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft before Connecticut acquired her draft rights in a trade that night.  She holds career averages of 13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.42 blocks.   

In honor of being named the 2021 WNBA Most Valuable Player, Jones will receive $15,450 and a specially designed trophy by Tiffany & Co.

 

Jones, though, was not the only member of the Suns to take home hardware on Tuesday. Her teammate, center Brionna Jones, a five-year WNBA veteran,  won the Most Improved Player Award for the first time and Head Coach Curt Miller was named Coach of the Year.

Jones received 38 of 49 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.  Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum finished in second place with eight votes.  Rounding out the list of vote-getters were Dallas Wings guard Marina Mabrey (two votes) and New York Liberty guard Betnijah Laney (one vote), the 2020 Most Improved Player as a member of the Atlanta Dream.

Brionna Jones finished the regular season with career highs in minutes (30.6 per game), points (14.7 per game) and rebounds (7.3 per game). Her previous career highs in each of those categories were all set with the Sun in 2020, when she averaged 11.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 26.1 minutes in 21 games.

She also made her first-career All-Star team appearance this past July.

In honor of being named the WNBA Most Improved Player, Jones will receive $5,150 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.

Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller has been named the 2021 WNBA Coach of the Year. He becomes the sixth coach in the 25-year history of the league to win the award multiple times, joining three-time winners Van Chancellor, Cheryl Reeve and Mike Thibault, and two-time winners Dan Hughes and Bill Laimbeer.

Miller, in his sixth season as a WNBA head coach, guided the Sun to the league’s best record (26-6) and the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2021 presented by Google.

The Sun’s overall winning percentage (.813) in 2021, propelled by a franchise-record 14-game winning streak to close the regular season, is the best mark in franchise history. Connecticut’s 14 straight wins from July 9 through August 19 also ranks as the fourth longest streak in league history.  The Sun also led the league in point differential (9.8 ppg).

Curt Miller has led Connecticut to a postseason berth in five straight seasons, including a trip to the 2019 WNBA Finals. Before joining the professional ranks as an assistant with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2015, Miller went 290-124 (.700) over 13 seasons as the women’s coach at Bowling Green (2001-12) and Indiana (2012-14).

The Sun tips off its quest for the franchise’ first WNBA championship tonight at 8 p.m. ET, hosting the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky (ESPN2) in Game 1 of a Semifinals series.

 

2021 WNBA MOST VAULABLE PLAYER VOTING RESULTS

 

Player (Team)

1st Place Votes

(10 Points)

2nd Place Votes

(7 Points)

3rd Place Votes

(5 Points)

4th Place Votes

(3 Points)

5th Place Votes

(1 Point)

Total Points
 
Jonquel Jones (Connecticut) 48 1 0 0 0 487
Brittney Griner (Phoenix) 1 23 6 5 8 224
Breanna Stewart (Seattle) 0 5 12 17 10 156
Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota) 0 8 9 10 6 137
Tina Charles (Washington) 0 6 11 7 9 127
A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas) 0 5 10 7 14 120
Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix) 0 1 0 1 1 11
Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas) 0 0 1 0 0 5
Candace Parker (Chicago) 0 0 0 1 1 4
Brionna Jones (Connecticut) 0 0 0 0 1 3

 

2021 WNBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER VOTING RESULTS     

 

Player                                      Team                                       Votes
Brionna Jones Connecticut Sun 38
​Kelsey Plum ​Las Vegas Aces ​8
​Marina Mabrey   ​Dallas Wings ​2
​Betnijah Laney     ​New York Liberty ​2

 

2021 WNBA COACH OF THE YEAR RESULTS

 

Coach Team Votes
Curt Miller   Connecticut Sun ​41
Cheryl Reeve Minnesota Lynx  ​6    
Bill Laimbeer Las Vegas Aces ​1
Noelle Quinn Seattle Storm ​1