Connecticut Sun Brionna Jones named 2021 KIA Most Improved Player

Connecticut Sun Brionna Jones Named 2021 KIA Most Improved Player
Connecticut Sun Brionna Jones Named 2021 KIA Most Improved Player (Getty Images)

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.

Player Team Votes
Brionna Jones Connecticut Sun 38
Kelsey Plum Las Vegas Aces 8
Marina Mabrey Dallas Wings 2
Betnijah Laney New York Liberty 1

Season Player Team
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

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