(Reuters) – Elena Delle Donne has long been an elite player in the WNBA but the Washington Mystics forward reached another level this year and was named the league’s most valuable player on Thursday.
Delle Donne was a near-unanimous choice for MVP as she received 41 of 43 first-place votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters while Phoenix center Brittney Griner earned the other top votes to finish a distant second.
During her standout season, Delle Donne became the first WNBA player in history to join basketball’s 50-40-90 club after she averaged 51.5% from the field, 43% from three-point range and 97.4% from the foul line.
Delle Donne, who was second in the WNBA with an average of 19.5 points per game, led Washington to a league-best 26-8 record and the top seed in the playoffs. The Mystics lead the Las Vegas Aces 1-0 in the best-of-five semi-final.
Having also won the MVP award in 2015 while a member of the Chicago Sky, Delle Donne is the first Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player to earn the honor with two different teams.
Delle Donne told reporters she credited her teammates and the Mystics organization for helping her reach MVP status yet again.
But with just hours to go before her team’s Game 2 semi-final match against the Aces, Delle Donne said she was keeping her focus squarely on bringing home a maiden WNBA trophy to Washington.
“Everything I do is just kind of trying to be focused in the present moment,” she said. “Next step is the game and we have to take everything one game at a time, one moment at a time.
“There’s unfinished business.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto and Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Toby Davis and Tom Brown)