Las Vegas Aces’ Kelsey Plum wins WNBA Sixth Player of Year award

Sep 30, 2021

Kelly CohenESPN

As the Las Vegas Aces enter Game 2 of the 2021 WNBA semifinals with a 1-0 lead against the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN App), they have more than one reason to be in high spirits: Kelsey Plum, who helped lead Las Vegas to the Game 1 victory with 25 points, has won the 2021 Sixth Player of the Year award.

It is the first award of her WNBA career and the third consecutive win for a member of the Aces.

The guard, who came off the bench in every game she played this season — a stark contrast to her first three seasons in the league as a starter — received 41 of 49 votes from a national media panel.

Two-time Sixth Player of the Year winner and Aces teammate Dearica Hamby (2019, 2020) received five votes to finish second, while Dallas Wings guard Marina Mabrey received two votes and Connecticut Sun guard Natisha Hiedeman received one.

Plum ranked 18th among all WNBA players in scoring (career-high 14.8 points) and 16th in assists (3.6) in 2021, but she also recorded eight games with at least 20 points — the most in a single season by a reserve in WNBA history. She also averaged 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 28.3 minutes, and shot 43.7% from the field and a career-best 94.4% at the foul line, missing just five free throws all season (85-of-90).

Plum has clearly found her sweet spot coming off the bench, more than a year after she tore an Achilles tendon and had to miss the 2020 season. But there was one bright spot: The 2020 Olympics were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving her a year to recover. She was able to return in 2021 to help the U.S. women’s national 3×3 team win gold in July in the postponed Games.

Plum was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 WNBA draft by the San Antonio Stars. She played one season for them before the franchise moved to Las Vegas and became the Aces.

At the University of Washington, Plum was an All-American and became the women’s NCAA Division I all-time leading scorer (3,527 points), averaging 31.7 points as a senior.

The Aces are the No. 2 seed in this year’s WNBA playoffs and are on the hunt for their first-ever championship.

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