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2022-23 WNBA midseason awards: Los Angeles Sparks edition

With twenty games in the books, the Sparks have reached the halfway point of the season. So let’s hand out some awards based on what we’ve seen thus far.

Las Vegas Aces v Los Angeles Sparks Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Sitting at a record of 7-13, the Sparks have finally — and mercifully — reached the season’s halfway mark.

A lot has changed since we last did this exercise at the quarterly mark of the season. Lexie Brown, Layshia Clarendon and Chiney Ogwumike have all missed significant time and the Sparks find themselves on a six-game losing streak.

While the year hasn’t gone the way like anyone in the organization would have hoped, it is still worth highlighting the strong individual contributions the team has gotten thus far.

Multiple players are having career years and that’s a credit to those individuals as well as coach Curt Miller and general manager Karen Bryant for investing and believing in this team.

With that said, let’s hand out some midseason awards for those who have exceeded expectations. Some winners have stayed the same, while others haven't. Without further ado, let’s begin the festivities.

Most Valuable Player: Nneka Ogwumike

With so much variance and speed-bumps within the Sparks’ season up until now, the singular aspect that has remained consistent is Nneka Ogwumike’s excellence.

“Nneka’s numbers are as good as her MVP season,” head coach Curt Miller recently pointed out.

Ogwumike is averaging 19.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest while also playing in 19 of the team’s 20 games. She was also just named a starter on the All-Star team.

Given she’s putting up career highs and more importantly has been available, it’s difficult to argue against Ogwumike as the most valuable player for the Sparks this year. You can even make a case for her being the MVP of the entire WNBA.

Beyond her impressive statistics, her leadership is also worth pointing out. Often seen supporting and guiding her teammates on and off the court, Ogwumike has firmly established herself as the face of the franchise and worthy of this honor.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jordin Canada

The more responsibility that has been given to Jordin Canada, the better she somehow has played. Now as a solidified starter and trusted point-of-attack-defender, she’s been tasked with guarding the best players in the league and excelling doing so.

Canada is currently averaging 1.8 steals per game, the fourth best mark in the league.

The Sparks may be struggling to win, but Canada has kept L.A. in games with her defensive tenacity. And once players like Brown and Clarendon come back, her defensive impact may only shine brighter.

Sixth Woman of the Year: Chiney Ogwumike

This one was a bit tougher. Many of the Sparks’ reserves have had to play starter minutes with multiple players missing significant time.

That said, I ultimately decided to give the honor to Chiney Ogwumike for a few reasons.

1) She has spent the majority of the season playing off the bench. 2) Her counting stats (8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds) are the best amongst the other bench players so far. And lastly, I think she’ll continue to come off the bench even once everyone is healthy.

Seeing which lineups Curt Miller turns to once everyone returns will be interesting. Like Ogwumike, others will likely step up and a player like Dearica Hamby or Azurá Stevens could very well be in the running to win this award next time.

Most Improved Player: Jordin Canada

Lexie Brown might ultimately get this award back upon her return, but as of now, I feel the most improved player has been Jordin Canada.

Not only is she playing 31.2 minutes a game — an uptick from last season’s 27 — she has also been the best defender on the team.

Canada has also turned heads on the offensive end as she has put up career bests in points (12.6), rebounds (2.9) and assists (5.6).

Even her three-point shooting, which has been an area of weakness her entire career, has improved tremendously. Canada is currently shooting a respectable 32% from behind the arc this season. For context, she shot 14% from three last year.

That’s the type of improvement that is worth awarding.

In possession of a losing record after twenty games, things could obviously be going better for the Sparks.

They once again find themselves outside of the playoff picture, but are just a game behind the Chicago Sky for that eight and final playoff position.

“You gotta look for the small victories right now,” Curt Miller said postgame following a recent loss. As the awards above exemplify, there are small victories still being won, but those soon must lead to tangible headway in the standings.

Still, there is optimism that this is the darkest moment of the season and fortunes will change with the likes of Brown, Larendon and Ogwumike coming back.

We’ll see if that hope turns into reality when the Sparks get back to work on July 20th against the Minnesota Lynx.

You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.

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