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2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year Power Rankings Week Nine: Rhyne Howard Locked In

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Wow, what a fantastic 2022 WNBA regular season so far. Teams are playing tough every game, causing upsets regularly. There is no night off in the WNBA, and rookies own an active role in holding top teams accountable. Of course, Rhyne Howard is most likely a lock for the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year award.

However, other rookies stand out for their superb play, and most teams have at least 14 games left to play.  Anything can happen on the hardwood, and it is fun to showcase the positive contributions of every rookie candidate. It is a rollercoaster type season. Why not enjoy the crazy WNBA Rookie of the Year power rankings ride.

RHYNE HOWARD

Before the All-Star break, Atlanta had two impressive wins against Seattle and New York and two tough losses to Washington. Howard had her best game against the Storm scoring 16 points on 58.3% shooting, grabbing five rebounds, pilfering three steals, and dishing out two dimes.

Looking every bit a veteran at the All-Star game, Howard put up 13 points, snagged five rebounds, and dished out four dimes in 15 minutes of play. As a reminder, she was the only rookie selected for the All-Star game.

In addition to showing out on the big stage in Chicago, Howard continues to lead rookies in points (15.1 PPG), steals (1.5 SPG), and three-pointers made (2.3 3PMG). She has helped the Dream to a 10-12 record, sixth place in league standings, and has her team in contention for a playoff appearance.

Might this be the week that Howard notches a double-double, and helps her team rise above the five hundred mark? No matter what happens, enjoy the marvelous Ms. Howard and her superpowers.

NALYSSA SMITH

Watching NaLyssa Smith participate in the skills competition during All-Star weekend was fun. It was a much-needed respite for the talented rookie on a team struggling to find its identity. Unfortunately, the Fever are on a six-game losing streak, and Smith has shown frustration on the court. 

It is tough to play at a high level, give your all, and still come up with a loss. On a high note, the talented Ms. Smith leads rookies in double-doubles (6) and rebounding (8.2 RPG), and she is second in points (13.2 PPG). Perhaps Smith can help Indiana win against Connecticut, Minnesota, and Seattle this week. One win or more will help her close the gap in this season’s rookie of the year competition.

REBEKAH GARDNER & SHAKIRA AUSTIN

The 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year honors may not be bequeathed to Rebekah Gardner or Shakira Austin, but they are making an impact. The two players are vital to their teams’ success, and the depth of their playoff runs. Make no bones about it, Gardner and Austin have All-Star capabilities for years to come. Gardner has even emerged in the 6th Player of the Year award conversation.

Throw the numbers out the window unless you want to count field goal percentage as a qualifying factor. Gardner is shooting 53.7% from the field, and Austin is shooting 55.2% from the field. That puts the two in the top 15 in that category. Other than that, their worth is not in the numbers. 

Gardner is an energizer off the bench for Chicago. Austin is the steady influence on the court with or without Elena Delle Donne. Their bag of tools is rich and immense. The best part, the two adjust their game to what is needed to help their team win. At the end of the season, one may be holding a championship trophy, and that trumps rookie of the year honors.

PARTING SHOTS

It may sound like a broken record but Howard is locked in for 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year honors. The only question that remains, will she be in the MVP conversation as well? With 14 games left for the Dream, a lot depends on Howard’s performance in regards to wins for Atlanta. Do not turn the WNBA channel peeps, it is set to be a tantalizing race to the playoffs.

All stats courtesy of Her Hoops Stats

About Sharon Ostrom

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