Los Angeles Sparks forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike is the 2016 WNBA MVP, it was announced today.
She received 31 of 39 first place media votes, including mine, for the honor.
She has lead the league in field goal percentage all season long, and has been third overall in both points and rebounds.
Ogwumike has been a model of consistency, recording the second-most double-doubles in WNBA history this year, with 18. She has carried the Sparks night in and night out with her play on both ends of the court. Her rise to the top has been incremental and steady.
The 26-year-old former Stanford All-American said she was stunned to be named MVP, but nobody else on the West Coast was surprised in the least. We witnessed Ogwumike's greatness every year she played in college.
A Texas native, Ogwumike is the oldest of four. She not only played big sister to Cardinal teammate Chiney, but to the entire team, as her on-court leadership skills were both personal and business. If Chiney took a fall during a game, Ogwumike would hustle to her and sometimes wipe her face and pick her up. Come crunch time, Ogwumike put the team on her back again and again. If it weren't for her, Stanford wouldn't have reached the Final Four each year she was there.
In her first season with the Sparks in 2012, Ogwumike showed flashes of brilliance playing behind Candace Parker and other veterans. She has played remarkably well each year since, considering little to no plays are run for her. She is so crafty that she creates her own plays and scoring opportunities, and is ferocious on both ends of the court.
It's been great to see Ogwumike's confidence rise this year, and to see her break out. In the context of answering one post-game media question earlier this year, she made a reference to how it had been time for her to step up. Seeing what she's done provides a glimpse of her unlimited potential. It's exciting.
Chiney Ogwumike penned a tribute to her older "twin."
30 new photos for number 30.