First in points per game. Third in rebounds per game and blocks per game. Only missed 11 free throws all season (out of 218). Playoff Appearance. League MVP.
This was the incredible season that Elena Delle Donne had for the Chicago Sky in 2015 in what was an WNBA MVP season. At 26 years old, Delle Donne has taken the the WNBA by storm and established herself as one of the league’s best. This summer, she starts on her reigning MVP season. Elena is my Athlete CRUSH for her Skill and the way she acts as a Role Model to people everywhere.
The past 3 years in the WNBA have allowed Delle Donne to establish her Skill as one of the best players in the game. Her elite free throw shooting, a strong inside presence both as a shot blocker and as a rebounder, and her ability to finish as a scorer led to her emergence as the top player in 2014-2015. For a comparison of just how good her 2014-2015 season was, her Player Efficiency Rating (PER), a common tool for comparing the top players in basketball, for last season led the league at 32.7. That ranks as the third best season in WNBA history and the best since Lauren Jackson in 2007.
For an NBA comparison, her PER of 32.7 would rank as the ALL-TIME BEST PER in NBA history, beating top seasons from Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. Her dominant play led to her being named the 2012-2013 Rookie of the Year and the 2014-2015 MVP, as well as a 3 time WNBA All-Star. She has also been chosen to represent the U.S. in women’s basketball at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, as the women will fight for their sixth straight Olympic Gold.
Delle Donne has taken on the mantle of being a Role Model in her first few years as a player in the WNBA. In 2014, Delle Donne was named a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics with her focus has being on “Promoting acceptance, inclusion, respect, and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities” (ESPN). Her want to support this community comes from a strong connection she has with her sister Lizzie, who has an intellectual disability. In a moving article Elena wrote for “The Player’s Tribune”, she discusses her relationship with her sister, who is deaf and blind, and has cerebral palsy as well as autism. It is evident how important her family is to her and how much she hopes to use her star power to promote change and good in the world.
In addition to being a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics, she also has her own foundation, The Elena Delle Donne Charitable Foundation. The foundation is relatively new and looks to support initiatives for both the Special Olympics and Lyme disease awareness, a disease which she has herself. Her commitment to her family, her causes, and to the greater good that can come out of sport make her an incredible role model.
Seeing the way that Elena Delle Donne carries herself on and off the court is what makes her an Athlete CRUSH of mine. As the WNBA season gets started, the league and its fans can look to the reigning MVP as a symbol of success, skill, and positivity. As a fan, I like seeing an athlete who has taken on a level of responsibility so early in her career. I like that she has a close relationship with her family and has taken her star power to become an ambassador to help others with similar struggles to her sister.
I look forward to following her quest to becoming one of the WNBA all-time greats for the Chicago Sky and hopefully bringing home gold for the U.S. in women’s basketball. And while her on-the-court success is impressive, I know her off-the-court work with the Special Olympics is changing lives.
Posted 24 May 2016