Las Vegas Aces forward Alysha Clark is the 2023 Kia WNBA Sixth Player of the Year, the WNBA announced. This marks Alysha’ has’s first time earning the honor as the league’s top reserve. To be eligible for the award, a player had to play more games as a reserve than as a starter.
It’s no wonder why Alysha found herself at the top of the table: she showcased an unparalleled level of adaptability and impact throughout the season. An 11-year veteran and a two-time WNBA champion, she transitioned seamlessly into her new role coming off the bench for the Las Vegas Aces. Whether she was in the starting lineup or not, Alysha’s commitment to making an impact on the court was unmistakable.
The guard averaged 6.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 22.5 minutes per game. She also made 38.6 percent of her three-point shots, ranking 17th in the WNBA in that category, and critically helping to stretch the floor for her team. For a player best known for her defense to date, that’s pretty impressive. To be clear, her versatility wasn’t limited to scoring; she had the leading defensive rating (102) among Aces players, other than (and this will come as no surprise) A’ja Wilson, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
Head coach Becky Hammon’s trust in Alysha emphasized her critical role on the team. Her exceptional defensive skills, combined with her three-point shooting proficiency, made her indispensable in various game scenarios, and whenever she was called on Alysha delivered consistently. Overall, Alysha helped Las Vegas earn a 34-6 record and secure the No. 1 seed in the 2023 WNBA Playoffs presented by Google.
Beyond her on-court contributions, Alysha’s exemplary character and leadership qualities in the locker room garnered well-deserved praise from both the coaching staff and her teammates.
“AC does all the little things. She communicates with us. She makes sure we’re all on the same page, and we need that over the course of a game,” A’ja Wilson told the Las Vegas Sun. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen AC take a play off. I’m so glad we picked her up because I couldn’t stand being guarded by her. It’s a joy to see her moving in action.”
Alysha received 35 of 60 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters to take home the honor. Guard-forward DiJonai Carrington of the Connecticut Sun finished second with 13 votes, and guard Dana Evans of the Chicago Sky was third with nine votes. Center Kalani Brown of the Dallas Wings, guard Marine Johannès of the New York Liberty and guard Sami Whitcomb of the Seattle Storm each received one vote.
Are we a little surprised DiJonai didn’t earn more votes? Honestly, yes. Even after losing former MVP Jonquel Jones and All-Star point guard in Jasmine Thomas during the offseason, Connecticut sits in the third place spot at the end of the regular season with a 27-13 record. Beyond WNBA Coach of the Year Stephanie White, DiJonai was a solid and energetic contributor to that success, averaging 8.3 points (higher than her career average), 2.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game in what some would call a breakout year for her. Much of DiJonai’s playmaking happens at the rim and she’s refined her finishing this year, in addition to finding more consistency from deep. “She’s been making the right plays, finding the right pass, knocking down three-point shots,” Stephanie White said. “…She’s been in the gym.” However, her left foot injury towards the end of the season may have been the deal breaker for some voters. We digress: we’re all in on Alysha.
Alysha, a two-time WNBA All-Defensive Team selection, is also the third player to win the Kia WNBA Sixth Player of the Year Award as a member of the Aces, joining Kelsey Plum (2021) and Dearica Hamby (2020 and 2019). While Alysha received a smaller share of total votes than other Aces according to the voting records from Across the Timeline, she was nonetheless the clear winner this year, capturing a respectable 58% of votes.
In honor of Alysha’s accomplishment, she will receive $5,150 and a trophy designed to commemorate the achievement. Hopefully it’s bigger than Kelsey Plum’s MVP trophy.
We can’t wait to see what Alysha and the Aces do in the Playoffs!
There are many opportunities to bet on the series’ results and upcoming WNBA awards, in addition to NBA betting.
Learn more about Alysha Clark’s journey in the WNBA here.