Dream

2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year Power Rankings Week 13: Musings from the Howardverse

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The WNBA season has flown by, and the playoffs begin next week. One kind word to describe the last couple of basketball-packed months is unique. What a gift to witness Rhyne Howard’s brilliance and dominance as the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year.

It is worth discussing the immediate future and what lies beyond this season regarding the Howardverse. Besides the Rookie of the Year award, Howard looks to lead her team into the playoffs for the ninth time in franchise history. 

Throw in a few numbers and comparisons to former WNBA Rookie of the Year recipients, and Howard’s effervescent magic glows magnificently.

PLAYOFF BOUND?

After a tough loss to the Aces, the Atlanta Dream plays its last two regular season games against the Liberty. The team is a tenuous eighth in league standings and must sweep the final two games to have a shot at the playoffs.

If Atlanta secures a playoff spot, it will be an eighth seed against the Sky or a seventh seed against the Aces. Its loss to Las Vegas places its fates in other teams’ hands. 

Although Howard showed sparks of brilliance against the Aces, she must shoot better than 25% moving forward. In two games against the Liberty, Howard averaged 30.3% from the field, 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, two assists, and .5 steals. It is not all on her shoulders, but solid shooting is key to winning close games. 

Sadly, Atlanta is short-handed due to player injuries. Howard is equipped to lead her team to the playoffs if she shoots consistently well, distributes to her open teammates, and helps defend and rebound. May the Howardverse provide Atlanta cause for celebrating a playoff berth. 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1555721639979016193

 

AWARD SEASON

In addition to the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, what other awards might Howard garnish? The All-Rookie team is a given. Might she make the All-WNBA team? She is 12th in points (16.1 PPG), fifth in three-pointers made per game (2.4 3PM), seventh in steals (1.6 SPG), and 12th in ESPN fantasy points (30.31 FPG). 

Most importantly, Howard has helped lead the Dream to the cusp of the playoffs and six more wins than last season’s total. Add in the energy, excitement, and potential she contributes on the court and as the face of the franchise, and one more award or two is in her grasp.

HOWARDVERSE 2.0

Howard’s future is full of possibilities regardless of how the cards fall regarding the playoffs. She will likely follow in the footsteps of Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson, winning WNBA MVP two years after winning Rookie of the Year. She may win the 2023 WNBA MVP award. The cards align with Rookie of the Year honors and one or more MVP awards during Howard’s career. One certainty, she will be an All-WNBA player for many years.

A WNBA All-Defensive Team award will be within reach as Howard’s game matures. She may win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year one season. Partner her with educational opportunities involving art, and Howard will be at the top of the list for the WNBA Cares award.

Howard is the franchise player to build a WNBA dynasty around. One or two more key players, especially someone that can dominate the frontcourt, push the Dream into championship contention. It may be a season or two away, but Atlanta is quickly climbing that ladder.

LEAPING FORWARD

This is the last week to watch most rookies in action. Will it be Howard’s last? With great anticipation, Howard and the Dream continue their playoff push at home against the Liberty on Friday. A quick turnaround has Atlanta in New York on Sunday for its season finale.

Tune in, lock in, and enjoy all the excitement and tense play. The Howardverse has reached maximum WNBA intensity.

All stats courtesy of Her Hoops Stats

About Sharon Ostrom

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