LAS VEGAS (September 22, 2023)—The WNBA announced today that Las Vegas Aces forward/center A’ja Wilson is the 2023 Kia WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. The award, which was launched following the WNBA’s inaugural season, is Wilson’s second in as many years, and she becomes the 8th player in league history to take home the award multiple times. Along with Defensive Player of the Year, Wilson also was named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team—her third WNBA all-defensive selection.
Wilson ranked 1st in the W in defensive win shares (3.5) and defensive efficiency rating (93.2), 1st in block percentage (6.0), 3rd in defensive rebound percentage (26.5) and 13th in steal percentage (2.2) as the Aces boasted the most efficient defense in the league this year (97.7). In more traditional statistics, Wilson led the league in blocked shots (2.23) for the 3rd time in 4 years, while finishing 3rd in defensive rebounds per game (7.5) and 10th in steals per game (1.40).
Although this is a regular season award, Wilson has been even better on the defensive end in the postseason thus far, blocking 4.00 shots, grabbing 8.0 defensive rebounds and picking up 1.50 steals per game. Her defensive efficiency in the 2023 playoffs is 72.0, while her block percentage (11.7), defensive rebound percentage (27.2) and steal percentage (2.6) are all better than her regular season output.
Wilson received 32 votes from a national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters. For the second consecutive year, Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas finished in second place (24 votes). Washington Mystics guard Brittney Sykes was third (three votes), and New York Liberty guard-forward Betnijah Laney received one vote.
Wilson is the only player in franchise history to be named Defensive Player of the Year, but three others have been named to WNBA All-Defensive teams—Jia Perkins (2013 second team), Danielle Robinson (2012, 2013 & 2014 second team) and Sophia Young-Malcolm (2008 first team; 2012 second team). Wilson earned second team honors in 2020, and first team honors in each of the last 2 seasons.
The Aces continue their playoff run with a WNBA Semifinals series against the Dallas Wings, beginning at home on Sunday, Sept. 24 (2 pm PT on ESPN2) and Tuesday, Sept. 26 (7 pm PT on ESPN2), before traveling to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday, Sept. 29 (5:30 pm PT on ESPN2). If necessary, Game 4 will be played in Dallas on Oct. 1 and Game 5 in Las Vegas on Oct. 3.
2023 WNBA All-Defensive First Team
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun
Brittney Sykes, Washington Mystics
Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty
Jordin Canada, Los Angeles Sparks
2023 WNBA All-Defensive Second Team
Betnijah Laney, New York Liberty
Ezi Magbegor, Seattle Storm
Nneka Ogwumike, Las Angeles Sparks
Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx
Elizabeth Williams, Chicago Sky