WNBA awards, Finals predictions: A’ja Wilson the MVP frontrunner, Aces

After a long and interesting offseason, a historic draft and a fascinating preseason, the 2024 WNBA season has finally arrived. Tuesday is opening night, and four games will tip off what is expected to be one of the best, and most consequential, campaigns ever.

Before the action gets underway, it’s time for one last preseason activity: award and Finals predictions. The exercise always makes for an interesting snapshot of the league, and it’s fun to look back at the middle and end of the season to see how right, or wrong, everyone was.

Without further ado, here are CBS Sports’ experts predictions for all major awards, including MVP and Rookie of the Year, and which team will lift the trophy in October.

MVP

A’ja Wilson

Alyssa Thomas

A’ja Wilson

As expected, A’ja Wilson received the most votes for MVP. She has won the award twice in her career, most recently in 2022, and finished in third place last season in one of the most closely contested races ever. With the Aces likely to finish in first place again, and Wilson established as the best player in the league, she is the favorite to win MVP.

Defensive Player of the Year

Good Magbegor

Brittney Sykes

Alyssa Thomas

There were three different predictions for Defensive Player of the Year, and notably none were for Wilson, who has won the award in each of the last two seasons. To that point, it’s worth noting that no one has ever won DPOY three years in a row. Will Wilson make history? Or will someone else establish themselves as the top player on that side of the ball?

Rookie of the Year

Caitlin Clark

Angel Reese

Caitlin Clark

By far the biggest surprise from the preseason predictions was that No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark was not the unanimous pick for Rookie of the Year. One of the best prospects to ever enter the league, Clark is a massive favorite for the honor, and will almost certainly win it barring a serious injury.

Most Improved Player

Shakira Austin

Abstained

NaLyssa Smith

Most Improved Player is always one of the most difficult awards to project. Two potential candidates this season are young forwards on the rise: Shakira Austin and NaLyssa Smith. The former is going to have a much bigger role for the Mystics this season, while the latter is going to reap the benefits of playing with Clark on the Fever.

Sixth Player of the Year

Myisha Hines-Allen

Kayla Thornton

DiJonai Carrington

Sixth Player of the Year was another one with three different predictions. Hines-Allen is a former All-WNBA honoree, but she will be coming off the bench this year based on the Mystics’ preseason rotations. Thornton, meanwhile, is the established sixth player for the Liberty, who should be one of the best teams. And Carrington finished as runner-up to Satou Sabally last season.

Coach of the Year

Christie Sides

Stephanie White

Becky Hammon

One of the dilemmas with projecting Coach of the Year is that you never know if voters will reward the coach of the best team or one that exceeded expectations. The varied selections reflect that dichotomy. Sides could win it if the Fever make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, while White or Hammon could get it for leading expected playoff teams. If White repeats, she would be the first coach to do so since Van Chancellor won the first three COY awards from 1997-99.

Executive of the Year

Talisa Rhea

Talisa Rhea

Talisa Rhea

The lone unanimous pick in terms of awards was Seattle Storm general manager Talisa Rhea for Executive of the Year. She was able to convince both Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith — No. 10 and 12, respectively, on CBS Sports’ top 25 player rankings for the 2024 season — to sign with Seattle in free agency. As a result, the Storm jumped back into the contender tier after missing the playoffs last season.

Finals prediction

Aces over Liberty

Aces over Sun

Aces over Liberty

Can the Aces join the now-defunct Houston Comets as the only teams to pull off a three-peat in WNBA history? Our experts certainly think so, as the Aces were the unanimous pick to win it all. The Liberty were the most popular pick to face them in a Finals, with a vote for the Sun as well. Even though Candace Parker retired, the Aces have the best player in the world in Wilson and the best starting five in the league.

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