- National Teams
The 2022-23 WBBL regular season has come to an end, which means it’s time for our annual awards ahead of the playoffs.
The coaches around the league will be voting for the official WBBL awards, which are usually announced in the lead up to the playoffs final at The O2.
Lauren Saiki – a first full season in the league, the guard helped orchestrate the Archers to a seventh place finish – becoming only the third ever player to record 175+ in a single league season. Saiki unsurprisingly topped the assists charts with 8.5 per game with seven games with 10+ assists which included two triple-doubles in league play.
15.4 PPG – 4.0 RPG – 8.5 APG – 2.3 SPG
Holly Winterburn – the most decorated player in the history of the WBBL with 10 titles by the age of 22, the Lions star elevated her status once again this season. Winterburn took another major step – including in European competition and with GB – and played a leading role for London with impressive all-round contributions throughout the campaign.
14.7 PPG – 5.3 RPG – 6.8 APG – 2.2 SPG
Kiki Herbert-Harrigan – the most high-profile signing in WBBL history, the former WNBA first round pick made the game look ridiculously easy at times with an average of almost 20 points in less than 23 minutes per game. Herbert-Harrigan was also deadly from three-point range when required – leading the league – and had a best of 29 points in the WBBL Championship twice.
18.7 PPG – 46.6% 3PT – 5.2 RPG – 1.1 BPG
Ashley Arlen – the former league MVP returned to play a major role for the Riders this season as they finished runners-up in two competitions. Arlen displayed strong leadership as captain having not needed to display the same scoring power that was seen in her time at Nottingham Wildcats. Still just as effective on the court and the type of top-level talent that helps strengthen the league.
14.7 PPG – 8.1 RPG – 2.7 APG – 1.1 BPG
Karly Murphy – a double-double machine, becoming the second player in WBBL history to collect 300+ rebounds in a single league campaign. Murphy also nearly accumulated 400 points and was a reliable force inside for the Hatters to be etched into the category of the elite bigs that have graced the WBBL in its nine seasons.
18.0 PPG – 14.4 RPG – 2.6 APG
Last season: Leonard – Carr – Pannell – Leedham-Warner – Stewart
Official TOTY: Carr – James – Pannell – Leedham-Warner – Stewart
Who else is in contention for the Team of the Year? And what could an All-Second Team look like?
Oliana Squires feels like one of the biggest omissions above after an impressive year for the Riders and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the American make the official team, while teammate McKenzie Johnston finished with 130+ assists and multiple triple-doubles.
Caledonia Gladiators deserve a lot of credit for finishing second – Miguel Angel Ortega Marco for Coach of the Year, anyone? – with Tea Adams one of the top performers in the second half of the season, while the experienced consistency of Erin McGarrachan and Chantelle Handy and early season form of Erin Jones should not go unmentioned.
Georgia Gayle had a typically strong year for the Hatters, Antoinette Lewis had a huge impact for the Eagles and Shannon Hatch had another year with 400+ points as a huge presence for the Archers.
The all-round talent of Elle Hendershot impressed again for Durham with the return of Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby transpiring into the league’s leading scorer. And then there’s the Oaklands trio of Grace George, Jorjah Smith and Cassidy Gould who all put up big numbers on a young Wolves side as well as Nottingham’s Kayla Shaw and Manchester’s Sam Keltos who stood out on struggling teams.
Usually, the ideal scenario for MVP is the best player on the best team, though of course it is and has become rather subjective. It isn’t always the case, but it does feel quite clear cut this season.
London have again been the best team and have the best player in the league in Kiki Herbert-Harrigan. They also have Holly Winterburn – a homegrown star that is getting better all the time. Any debate realistically stops there at those two.
Watching Kiki in person is different. The ability to make the game look so simple: an effortless ease on offence combined with an unconscious jumpshot beautifully contrasted with a fierce, dismissive approach on defence.
The second leading scorer in the league whilst only playing 30+ minutes twice in 19 games just goes to show the ridiculous numbers that could have been produced – as seen in the Trophy final. It’s a shame that Kiki won’t be finishing the season as WNBA duty calls with training camp starting soon for Connecticut Sun, but the MVP award will surely be heading in her direction soon.
Last season: Leedham-Warner
Official MVP: Leedham-Warner
Holly Winterburn – Georgia Gayle – Janice Monakana – Erin McGarrachan – Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby
This is perhaps even harder to predict with the growing level of British talent.
Recently retired GB veterans Chantelle Handy and Azania Stewart are still as influential as ever, while Shanice Beckford-Norton provides the perfect role off the bench for the Lions with unrelenting energy and Hannah Robb continues to be a solid performer for the Riders. Renee Busch stepped up for the Suns, too.
Notes: Grace George holds a British passport, while Kiki Herbert-Harrigan is from the British overseas territory of Anguilla.
Last season: Leonard – Beckford-Norton – Gayle – Leedham-Warner – Stewart
Official British TOTY: Leonard – Winterburn – Naylor – Leedham-Warner – Stewart
Issy Bunyan should be the heavy frontrunner here.
More young players are being given opportunities within the league – Oaklands being the prime example, while Nottingham also saw extended playing time for their academy players and Caledonia had their fare share, too. Charli Wroe and Abbey Whitehouse also impressed for the Hatters.
But Bunyan has taken another major step forward. The rising Welsh talent was the MVP at the 2022 Hoopsfix All-Star Classic and has become a dependable member of the Cardiff starting five in their successful bid to return to the post-season.
The 18-year-old is heading to Montana State University next season off the back of averages of 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game – already ranking in the top 10 all-time for blocks in the WBBL Championship.
Last season: Egharevba
Official YPOY: Egharevba
Taylor Murray – Araion Bradshaw – Kiki Herbert-Harrigan – Ashley Arlen – Sune Swart
DISCLAIMER: These are not official awards. Feel free to disagree and drop your predictions in the comments