Going into the 2020 WNBA season, not that many people predicted that Minnesota Lynx point guard Crystal Dangerfield or head coach/general manager Cheryl Reeve would end up claiming the Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year awards. But on Thursday, they did just that, showcasing just how impressive they have been and the success they’ve sustained during the unusual season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
The Lynx and the WNBA announced Thursday afternoon that Dangerfield was the named the 2020 Rookie of the Year, while Reeve was awarded with the 2020 Coach of the Year honor. Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson was also named league MVP.
Dangerfield received 44 of the 47 votes for the Rookie of the Year award; Atlanta’s Chennedy Carter received two votes and Dallas’ Satou Sabally received one. Dangerfield, who was selected with the fourth pick in the second round (No. 16 overall) in the WNBA Draft, is the lowest draft pick to ever win the award.
“It means a lot because this draft class was great. Hard work paid off,” Dangerfield said on Thursday. “That’s what I’ve tried to do whether it be college or here now. Just be consistent and conduct myself like a pro. That’s putting up numbers that my team needs me to and make sure I am doing my job to help my team win, first and foremost.”
Dangerfield is the second straight Lynx Rookie of the Year — Napheesa Collier won it in 2019 — and fifth in franchise history after Collier, Maya Moore (2011), Seimone Augustus (2006) and Betty Lennox (2000). And she’s the latest player out of Connecticut to become a star for the Lynx, joining the likes of Collier and Moore.
In 21 appearances this season, Dangerfield averaged 16.2 points, 3.6 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 0.9 steals and shot 47.1% from the field and 33.3% from three in 30 minutes per game. She ranked 11th in the WNBA in scoring and third in free throw percentage (92.2%). She also ranked second among rookies in scoring, minutes and assists.
“I’m incredibly proud that Crystal has been named the 2020 Rookie of the Year. She demonstrated a strong belief in herself from the outset of our time here in Bradenton,” Reeve said in a statement issued by the team. “Crystal was a key reason for the success the Lynx experienced in 2020 as she brilliantly rose up to the many challenges of shouldering the responsibility of running an offense as a rookie in the WNBA.”
For Reeve, the Coach of the Year nod highlights yet another instance showcasing the brilliance she has brought to the Lynx since joining the organization as head coach in 2010.
Reeve, who claimed the honor for the third time in her career after doing so in 2011 and 2016, received 25 votes for Coach of the Year. She beat out Las Vegas’ Bill Laimbeer with 17 votes, Los Angeles’ Derek Fisher and Washington’s Mike Thibault, with two each, and Phoenix’s Sandy Brondello with one vote. She is also the third coach in WNBA history to have now won the award three times, joining Van Chancellor and Thibault.
“There are a lot of good coaches in this league. I think that’s probably what stands out the most,” Reeve said. “All of us had to deal with a variety of things. This was not an easy season. This is a tremendous honor.”
While transitioning the organization out of a historical run the last few years, Reeve has continued to adapt to different players and personnel on her team and has continued to squeeze out everything she can from her players to put together successful seasons annually. This Coach of the Year award is just another example of that.
“Our culture has helped us sustain success. … That’s what’s really special is that this group continues to buy into that,” Reeve said. “The team is as much of a part of a coach being successful. … One of the most important things to our overall success over the last decade is players allowing coaches to be themselves as well and allow themselves to be coached. … For me, that’s the most fulfilling thing.
“My ability to earn a Coach of the Year honor is because of what they believed in that we shared with them. That’s incredibly fulfilling as somebody that believes in them to the nth degree and wants them to be successful.”
Although many wouldn’t have picked Dangerfield or Reeve to win either of the season awards leading into the year, Thursday’s news showcases the winning culture the Lynx have instilled and just what type of season they have put together so far in 2020.