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2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year Power Rankings Week 12: The Howardverse Reigns Supreme

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It was a relatively short week in the WNBA as the Commissioner’s Cup highlighted the beginning. Six teams compete for three playoff spots as the regular season sprints to the finish. Most have six games to prove their mettle and secure a coveted playoff spot.

Continuing the theme of Rhyne Howard as 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, comparing her numbers to other rookies provides a broader picture of her talent and domination on the court. It is the Howardverse, and numbers do not lie.

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HOWARD VS. SMITH

If anyone besides Howard can claim the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, it is NaLyssa Smith. Unfortunately, the Fever are out of playoff contention, and she plays with six other rookies on a very young team.

Although their games are different, some of their numbers are remarkably similar. They average 31.0 minutes a game and have started 28 games this season. Howard averages 5.5 field goals made a game while Smith averages 5.1. 

Howard has the advantage in points per game, 15.6 to 13.6. As expected, she leads in assists (2.6 to 1.5), steals (1.5 to .5), and ESPN fantasy points (29.71 to 25.93). She also has a better free throw percentage, 77.8% to 58.7%.

Interestingly, Smith holds the advantage in field goal percentage (42.6% to 36.4%) and 3-point percentage (37.6% to 34.0%). She also leads in rebounds (8.3 to 4.6). 

Surprisingly, Howard averages more blocks per game (.8 to .3), and she averages fewer turnovers (1.6 to 2.5) and fouls (2.5 to 2.9). Additionally, the Dream swept its series against the Fever.

Advantage: This matchup is closer than many may think. If the Fever had more wins, might this be a legitimate race between the two? Field goal, three-point percentage, and rebounds aside, Howard wins this one.

HOWARD VS. AUSTIN

Shakira Austin is a fantastic player and will be an all-star for many years to come. For now, her role is limited in Washington. Although she starts, Austin averages 21.1 minutes a game, ten fewer than Howard. 

On the positive side for Austin, she snags more rebounds and has a much better shooting percentage than Howard. Turnovers and fouls are even for the two players.

That is not enough to win the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year award. First, Howard shoots from anywhere on the court. Austin has not attempted a 3-pointer this season. She also scores almost double Austin’s average and banks a much better percentage from the charity stripe.

Advantage: If Austin played ten more minutes a game, might this be a tighter competition? The Mystics swept its series against the Dream, and it has clinched a playoff berth. Still, it is not enough. Howard confidently wins this matchup on many levels.

HOWARD VS. GARDNER

Finally, what is not to like about Rebekah Gardner? She provides a valuable spark off the bench for the Sky and could be a starter for any number of WNBA teams. How does she stack up against Howard?

Her field goal percentage is much better than Howard’s, but they are close in 3-point percentage. They average the same number of turnovers, steals a game, and are comparable in blocks and free-throw shooting percentage.

Once again, Howard averages more points, plays more minutes and has more assists (2.6 to 1.3) and rebounds (4.6 to 3.2).

Advantage: Another what-if scenario, might the race be closer if Gardner averaged more minutes a game? One will not know, but the Sky bested the Dream in its series and is the top team in the league standings. Howard is victorious again, as her numbers tell another tale of excellence.

THE HOWARDVERSE

The numbers are in, and the Howardverse reigns supreme for another week. May those numbers translate into a playoff berth for the Atlanta Dream and a chance for Howard to extend her fantabulous season.

Watch all the action this week as your favorite rookies drive into the painting of playoff hopes and aspirations. There is a lot of competitive basketball left in this memorable 2022 season. Enjoy another week in the Howardverse.

All stats courtesy of Her Hoops Stats

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