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Aces' A'ja Wilson Named 2022 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 30, 2022

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Las Vegas Aces star A'ja Wilson was named the WNBA's Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday and earned first-team All-Defensive honors as well.

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🚨 A'JA WILSON IS THE 2022 WNBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR 🚨 <br><br>The former MVP adds more to her trophy case 🏆 <a href="https://twitter.com/HighlightHER?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HighlightHER</a> <a href="https://t.co/oAtUFRO215">pic.twitter.com/oAtUFRO215</a>

Wilson collected 20 first-place votes, beating out the Connecticut Sun's Alyssa Thomas (14 votes) and the Seattle Storm's Breanna Stewart (13 votes).

Stewart joined Wilson on the All-Defensive First Team, while Thomas made the second team.

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Your 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBA</a> All-Defensive First Team ⬇️<a href="https://twitter.com/_ajawilson22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_ajawilson22</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/T_Cloud4?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@T_Cloud4</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/SylviaFowles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SylviaFowles</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/breannastewart?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@breannastewart</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/arielatkinssvn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@arielatkinssvn</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MoreThan?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MoreThan</a> <a href="https://t.co/NGx5gFMD2a">pic.twitter.com/NGx5gFMD2a</a>

WNBA @WNBA

Your 2022 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBA</a> All-Defensive Second Team ⬇️<a href="https://twitter.com/athomas_25?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@athomas_25</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ezimagbegor?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ezimagbegor</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/jus242?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jus242</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/BrittBundlez?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BrittBundlez</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/gabbywilliams15?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@gabbywilliams15</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MoreThan?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MoreThan</a> <a href="https://t.co/yCgQNBYuSZ">pic.twitter.com/yCgQNBYuSZ</a>

Wilson made an immediate impact in the WNBA after being drafted first overall out of South Carolina in 2018. She was an All-Star in each of her first two seasons and won MVP in 2020.

Entering the 2022 campaign, the 26-year-old's status as one of the league's brightest talents wasn't in doubt. Her DPOY nod is a testament to the improvement she has made on the defensive end.

With the offseason departure of Liz Cambage, it was often Wilson's job to line up against the other team's best post player, and the league has no shortage of elite forwards.

Despite giving up size to the likes of Elena Delle Donne, Jonquel Jones and Sylvia Fowles, the 6'4" Wilson was an imposing presence inside.

She led the WNBA in blocks, averaging 1.9 per game, and was second in rebounds (9.4). Her presence inside played a role in Aces opponents' attempting the second-fewest shots inside the restricted area (16.5) during the regular season.

Wilson may not stop at adding 2022 Defensive Player of the Year to her accolades. She and Stewart have waged a tight head-to-head battle for MVP all season, and both players have built a strong resume.

Wilson helped the Aces claim the top seed in the playoffs, but Stewart may have been more valuable to her team. Jewell Loyd didn't hit the heights she regularly did in previous seasons, and 41-year-old Sue Bird was limited by her age.

The WNBA is scheduled to announce the 2022 MVP on Sept. 7.

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