Connecticut Sun forward Brionna Jones has been named the 2021 Kia WNBA Most Improved Player, the WNBA announced today. A five-year WNBA veteran, Jones has won the Most Improved Player Award for the first time and joins Jonquel Jones (2017), Kelsey Bone (2015) and Wendy Palmer (2004) as players to earn the honour with the Sun.
Brionna 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.
Selected by Connecticut in the first round of the 2017 WNBA Draft (eighth overall pick), Jones averaged career-highs of 14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 30.6 minutes while starting all 32 games for the Sun this season. 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.
This season, Jones helped the Sun post the highest winning percentage in franchise history (.813) and finish the regular season with 14 consecutive victories for the fourth-longest winning streak in WNBA history. Connecticut also earned the league's best record (26-6) and the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2021 presented by Google. The Sun, seeking to win its first WNBA championship, hosts the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky in Game 1 of a Semifinals series tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The 6-3 Jones ranked second in the WNBA in offensive rebounding (3.2 orpg) and eighth in steals (1.38 spg) in 2021. She scored at least 20 points in six games after doing so twice over her first four WNBA seasons. Her five games with at least 10 rebounds equalled her career total prior to this season.
Jones also set single-game career highs in points, with 34 against the Indiana Fever on July 1, and in rebounds, with 15 against the Los Angeles Sparks on Aug. 28. She was honoured as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice after not having previously won the award.
In honour of being named the WNBA Most Improved Player, Jones will receive $5,150 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.
Below are the voting results for the 2021 WNBA Most Improved Player Award and a list of past recipients.
|Brionna Jones||Connecticut Sun||38|
|Kelsey Plum||Las Vegas Aces||8|
|Marina Mabrey||Dallas Wings||2|
|Betnijah Laney||New York Liberty||1|
|2000||Tari Phillips||New York Liberty|
|2001||Janeth Arcain||Houston Comets|
|2002||Coco Miller||Washington Mystics|
|2003||Michelle Snow||Houston Comets|
|2004||Kelly Miller||Indiana Fever|
|2004||Wendy Palmer||Connecticut Sun|
|2005||Nicole Powell||Sacramento Monarchs|
|2006||Erin Buescher||Sacramento Monarchs|
|2007||Janel McCarville||New York Liberty|
|2008||Ebony Hoffman||Indiana Fever|
|2009||Crystal Langhorne||Washington Mystics|
|2010||Leilani Mitchell||New York Liberty|
|2011||Kia Vaughn||New York Liberty|
|2012||Kristi Toliver||Los Angeles Sparks|
|2013||Shavonte Zellous||Indiana Fever|
|2014||Skylar Diggins||Tulsa Shock|
|2015||Kelsey Bone||Connecticut Sun|
|2016||Elizabeth Williams||Atlanta Dream|
|2017||Jonquel Jones||Connecticut Sun|
|2018||Natasha Howard||Seattle Storm|
|2019||Leilani Mitchell (2)||Phoenix Mercury|
|2020||Betnijah Laney||Atlanta Dream|
|2021||Brionna Jones||Connecticut Sun|