The 6-foot-4 forward was quickly dubbed a "unicorn" for her talent when she entered the league, and this was the year it all came together. She averaged career highs of 18.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals this season, an improvement from 11.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.5 steals in 2022.
She put in the work & is now being rewarded for it 🧡@satou_sabally is your 2023 WNBA @Kia Most Improved Player
Satou Sabally went from averaging 11.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, & 2.1 APG in 2022, to putting up career highs of 18.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.4 APG this season#KiaMIP #MoreThanGame pic.twitter.com/GHw3YWNRRQ
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 21, 2023
Born in New York and brought up in Gambia and Germany, the 25-year-old was selected with the Wings' No. 2 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft out of Oregon. Injuries hampered her three WNBA seasons, limiting her to only 11 regular-season games last year.
But this offseason, she took every precaution to stay healthy for the year ahead. When the Wings hired head coach Latricia Trammell last November, Sabally reportedly told her, "I want this to be my year."
Instead of immediately reporting to Turkey to play overseas for Euroleague champion Fenerbahçe, she stayed in the United States for a bit longer than normal. She reportedly used that time to rest, recover knee and ankle injuries and work on skills. Some of her rehab efforts included swimming, pilates and no heavy weights, according to ESPN.
It all paid off, as she ended the regular season ranked top 10 in the league in points and rebounds and top five in steals. After making her first All-Star appearance in 2021, she earned a starting spot in this year's exhibition game. Earlier this month, she landed on the Associated Press' All-WNBA Second Team and earned their Most Improved Player award.
Sabally earned $5,150 and a trophy designed to commemorate the league's honor, for which she earned 37 of 60 votes from a panel of national sportswriters and broadcasters.
Los Angeles Sparks guard Jordin Canada landed in second place with 18 votes, and Chicago Sky forward Alanna Smith was third with three votes. Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier and Washington Mystics guard Brittney Sykes each received one vote.
Sabally helped lead the Wings to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. She will take the court next in the team's first game of a semifinal series against the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces on Sunday at Michelob Ultra Arena (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2).