Aces' Kelsey Plum named Sixth Player of the Year in first season back from Achilles injury

·3 min read

It's the Las Vegas Aces' day for a morning award drop-in.

The WNBA announced Kelsey Plum as the 2021 Sixth Player of the Year and General Manager Dan Padover as its Basketball Executive of the Year on Thursday morning. The No. 2 seeded Aces host Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2. They lead the Phoenix Mercury, 1-0, in the best-of-five series.

Plum wins Sixth Player award in record year for it

It is the first Sixth Player award for Plum, who missed 2020 with an Achilles injury, and the third consecutive for an Aces player. Dearica Hamby won in 2019 and 2020 and the teammates were viewed as the leading candidates in a tight race.

Plum, 27, received 41 of the 49 votes by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Hamby, who had pushed for Plum to win since Hamby got the All-Star nod this year, had five votes. Dallas Wings guard Marina Mabrey had two votes and Connecticut Sun guard Natisha Hiedeman had one. The No. 1 Sun host the No. 6 Chicago Sky at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday and trail in the series.

The NCAA's all-time scoring leader in Division I came off the bench every game this season and averaged a career-high 14.8 points per game. She added 3.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 28.3 minutes in 26 games. Her eight games of at least 20 points is a WNBA record for a reserve player and her two games of at least 30 points tied the league record for a reserve. Her current teammate, Angel McCoughtry, set that record while with the Atlanta Dream in 2012.

Plum ranked 16th among all players in scoring and 14th in assists. She missed the 2020 season after tearing her Achilles tendon that June. Exactly one year later she won gold at the Olympics in the first-ever 3x3 tournament. She was the No. 1 pick of the franchise in the 2007 draft out of Washington.

Aces' GM named top executive

Padover earned his nod for a second consecutive year after constructing a roster that finished second in league standings. The award is voted on by a panel of one executive from each team who lists their top-three choices.

Padover was listed on the most ballots (nine) while Minnesota Lynx general manager/coach Cheryl Reeve was named on eight and New York Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb was named on six, the WNBA said.

Las Vegas' big offseason addition was Chelsea Gray, the "point gawd" and two-time All-WNBA pick. She's averaging 11.1 points, 5.9 assists (fourth in the league). Former Sixth Player of the Year Riquna Williams, who along with Plum led the scoresheet in Game 1 of the semifinals, also joined in the offseason and averaged 10.5 ppg. He also added Kiah Stokes in July after she was waived by the Liberty. Stokes stepped in for center Liz Cambage late in the season and averaged nine rebounds over her eight games.

The team has played without veteran presence Angel McCoughtry for the entire season as she rehabs an ACL injury. They've also missed Plum while she was at Olympic 3x3 qualifying, Liz Cambage for similar reasons (and later COVID-19) and Hamby.

The Aces averaged a league-best 89.3 points per game this regular season and were the first team in league history with seven players averaging double-digits. The previous high was five. They're also a top-ranked defense, ranking second in defensive rating (98.0) behind the Connecticut Sun.