NEW YORK, Sept. 28, 2021 – 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 honor 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 equaled 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 honored as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week twice after not having previously won the award.
In honor 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.
2021 WNBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER VOTING RESULTS
|Brionna Jones||Connecticut Sun||38|
|Kelsey Plum||Las Vegas Aces||8|
|Marina Mabrey||Dallas Wings||2|
|Betnijah Laney||New York Liberty||2|
WNBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER WINNERS
|2021||Brionna Jones||Connecticut Sun|
|2020||Betnijah Laney||Atlanta Dream|
|2019||Leilani Mitchell||Phoenix Mercury|
|2018||Natasha Howard||Seattle Storm|
|2017||Jonquel Jones||Connecticut Sun|
|2016||Elizabeth Williams||Atlanta Dream|
|2015||Kelsey Bone||Connecticut Sun|
|2014||Skylar Diggins-Smith||Tulsa Shock|
|2013||Shavonte Zellous||Indiana Fever|
|2012||Kristi Toliver||Los Angeles Sparks|
|2011||Kia Vaughn||New York Liberty|
|2010||Leilani Mitchell||New York Liberty|
|2009||Crystal Langhorne||Washington Mystics|
|2008||Ebony Hoffman||Indiana Fever|
|2007||Janel McCarville||New York Liberty|
|2006||Erin Buescher||Sacramento Monarchs|
|2005||Nicole Powell||Sacramento Monarchs|
|2004||Wendy Palmer/Kelly Miller||Connecticut Sun/Indiana Fever|
|2003||Michelle Snow||Houston Comets|
|2002||Coco Miller||Washington Mystics|
|2001||Janeth Arcain||Houston Comets|
|2000||Tari Phillips||New York Liberty|
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About the WNBA
Currently in its 25th season in 2021, the WNBA is a bold, progressive basketball league that stands for the power of women. Featuring 12 teams, the W is a unique sports property that combines competition and entertainment with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and social responsibility. Through its world-class athletes, the in-game fan experience, TV and digital broadcasts, digital and social content and community outreach programs, the league celebrates and elevates the game of basketball and the culture around it.
In 2020, the WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) signed a groundbreaking eight-year CBA that charts a new course for women’s basketball—and women’s sports overall—with a focus on increased player compensation, improvements to the player experience, expanded career development opportunities, and resources specifically tailored to the female professional athlete. Key elements of the agreement are supported through the league’s new platform, WNBA Changemakers, with AT&T, the WNBA’s Marquee Partner and inaugural Changemaker, as well as fellow inaugural Changemakers Deloitte and Nike, and the recent addition of Google. During the 2020 season, the WNBA and WNBPA launched the WNBA Justice Movement forming the Social Justice Council with the mission of being a driving force of necessary change and continuing conversations about race and voting rights, among other important societal issues.