Professional Basketball

Collier, Reeve Take Home Rookie, Executive Awards

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Minnesota Lynx rookie forward Napheesa Collier was named 2019 Rookie of the Year while Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve was named 2019 Executive of the Year in WNBA league awards that were announced this week.

Collier became the fourth player in WNBA history to record at least 400 points, 200 rebounds, 75 assists, 50 steals, 25 blocks and 25 three-pointers made in a season. The other three players to reach those totals in a season are Maya Moore, Tamika Catchings and Sheryl Swoopes. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

Collier became the fourth player in WNBA history to record at least 400 points, 200 rebounds, 75 assists, 50 steals, 25 blocks and 25 three-pointers made in a season. The other three players to reach those totals in a season are Maya Moore, Tamika Catchings and Sheryl Swoopes.

“There’s a long list of thank you’s that I need to make because I definitely did not win this award on my own,” said Collier when she received her award and thanked family, coaches and teammates. “This award means a lot to me. I feel really honored to be in the company of some great names like [Lynx teammate] Seimone [Augustus].”

Out of a national panel of 43 sportswriters and broadcasters who vote on the awards, Collier received votes from 29 of them, while the remaining 14 went to Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale.

“This draft class is extremely talented and it was one heck of a race. A little bit too close to my liking, to be honest,” said Collier. “But I am really excited for the future of this league. I think this is just the beginning for us and I can’t wait to get started here.”

Collier averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.91 steals and 0.94 blocked shots while starting all 34 regular-season games and logging a WNBA-high 33.3 minutes per game. She shot 49.0 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from three-point range and 79.2 percent from the free throw line. Collier ranked second in scoring, rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage and third in assists and three-point field goal percentage among the 2019 rookie class. She led rookies in steals while finishing fourth in that category among all WNBA players.

“We are so proud that Napheesa was named the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year,” said Reeve, her head coach. “She recorded one of the best rookie seasons ever, boasting an incredibly efficient stat line every time she played. She was not only one of the most efficient scorers in the league, her defensive performance ranked near the top of the entire league and was one of the best seasons ever for a rookie. Napheesa’s rookie campaign was a model of consistency rarely demonstrated by first-year players and simply put, we were a better team with her on the court.”

Collier is the fourth member of the Minnesota Lynx to win the Rookie of the Year award. Betty Lennox (2000), Seimone Augustus (2006) and Maya Moore (2011) have won it previously. Collier will receive a trophy designed by Tiffany & Co., along with $5,000 for her award.

She became the fifth UCONN player to win the Rookie of the Year award behind Diana Taurasi (2004), Tina Charles (2010), Maya Moore (2011) and Breanna Stewart (2016).

“I give a lot of credit to the college that I went to and the coaches that I had there. I think they did a great job of preparing us, all my teammates and myself, anyone who goes to that school, for the next level,” said Collier. “[Rookie of the Year] was the goal I set for myself at the beginning of this year and it’s something I worked really hard for throughout the year.”

As a head coach, Reeve has a 231-109 regular-season record and a 40-17 playoff record in 10 seasons with the Lynx. In addition to her record-tying four WNBA championships, Reeve has the highest winning percentage in both the regular season (.679) and the postseason (.702) in league history. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The league also announced Reeve as the 2019 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year. The second year general manager took home four first place votes and 28 total points by a panel of twelve executives, one from each team. She narrowly outlasted Dan Padover of the Las Vegas Aces (four first-place votes, 27 points) and Mike Thibault of the Washington Mystics (two first-place votes, 19 points).

Executives were awarded five points for a first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote, and were not allowed to vote for themselves.

After eight seasons of dominance in the WNBA playoffs including four championships and six Finals appearances, the Lynx were forced to retool their roster following the retirement of guard Lindsay Whalen and the absences of forwards Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson.

Between drafting Collier and Jessica Shepherd in the draft, Reeve traded for Odyssey Sims, Lexie Brown and Stephanie Talbot and brought Damaris Dantas back to the team through free agency. The Lynx squad finished with an 18-16 record, good enough for the seventh seed in the playoffs, and better than the expectations of fans and media members throughout the league when the season began.

“I am honored to have been chosen as Executive of the Year,” said Reeve. “This award is a testament to the hard work of our talented staff. I am proud of the way our staff and players came together despite much adversity. Many thanks to [Lynx owners] Glen and Becky Taylor for their unwavering commitment to our team.”

As a head coach, Reeve has a 231-109 regular-season record and a 40-17 playoff record in 10 seasons with the Lynx. In addition to her record-tying four WNBA championships, Reeve has the highest winning percentage in both the regular season (.679) and the postseason (.702) in league history.

After having previously won the Coach of the Year award in 2011 and 2016, she joins the Connecticut Sun’s Curt Miller as the only other person to have received both the Coach and Executive awards. Miller won them both in 2017.

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