Dream

2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year Power Rankings Week Seven: The All-Star Reigns

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Halfway through the 2022 WNBA regular season and rookies have settled into league play. Consistency and quality are themes for these 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year candidates. Every player has her own unique style and way of positively contributing to her team. It may not show up in the win/loss column each game but their performance is remarkable considering the highly competitive nature of the WNBA. Add some fun to their fundamentals and it is a winning situation for all, especially the fans.

RHYNE HOWARD

Once again, Rhyne Howard is the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year favorite. Although the Dream went 1-2 last week, her play remains the most dependable. Against other rookies, Howard is first in scoring (16.2 PPG), assists (2.7 APG), steals (1.6 SPG), and three-pointers made (2.6 3PMG).

It was a delight to see her rebounding numbers improve as she flirted with her first double-double of the season. Might she be on the verge of one or more double-doubles this week? The Dream have three tough games in a row so expect Howard to level up her intensity to keep her team in the hunt for a playoff appearance.

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Howard was also recently named a WNBA All-Star in her first season in the league. It’s safe to say this award is officially locked up now.

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NALYSSA SMITH

At the midseason mark NaLyssa Smith is a solid second in the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year power rankings. At times she looks ready to challenge Howard for the title. Unfortunately, last week Indiana played one game and it was her worst game of the season.

Still, Smith leads all rookies in double-doubles (5), rebounding (8.6 RPG) and two-pointers made (4.4 2PMG). She is second in scoring (13.3 PPG) and started this week with an impressive 15 points and 10 rebounds in a tough loss at Phoenix. Look for Smith to continue her double-double trend as Indiana plays two more games on the road to finish out the week.

REBEKAH GARDNER

For the first time, Rebekah Gardner is in the third spot in the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year power rankings. She had two impressive games against Los Angeles and Minnesota averaging 11 points, 6.5 rebounds, and two steals. Gardner helped Chicago win three games last week and will be a key component to extending that winning streak this week.

Compared to the other rookie of the year contenders, Gardner is first in free-throw percentage (81.3%) and two-point percentage (59.3%). She is second in steals (1.5 SPG) and field goal percentage (53.4%). Add in 9.3 PPG and 1.2 APG as Gardner takes advantage of each and every 22.4 minutes of action per game. Makes you wonder what her numbers might look like if she played more minutes.

SHAKIRA AUSTIN

The previous three games were not Shakira Austin‘s best so opponents beware this week. Although she averages 21.3 minutes per game, Austin is another player that capitalizes on each minute played. She is first among ROY candidates in field goal percentage (54.5%), second in blocks (.8 BPG) and third in rebounds (6.5 RPG). Be on the lookout for more consistency from Austin in her next two games. Enjoy every minute this unique, incredible athlete is on the court.

PARTING SHOTS

After seven weeks, Howard is in sole control of 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year honors. Smith has a shot at competing for the title but the numbers, consistency, and quality are on Howard’s side. Whatever the outcome may be, what an amazing season it has been so far for all the ROY candidates. The second half of the season promises excitement, growth, and plenty of “wow” moments. Enjoy the WNBA every night this week as you tune in to all 14 games. What rookie(s) are you rooting for?

All stats courtesy of Her Hoops Stats

About Sharon Ostrom

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