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2022 WNBA ROY Power Rankings Week Five: Is ROY a Lock for Rhyne Howard?

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As if the 2022 WNBA season could not get anymore riveting, in walks week five. There were 14 games played last week with 10 games featuring 2022 WNBA ROY candidates. There were a few double-digit victories but most of the games were down to the wire, with rookies playing key roles in the outcome of each game.

For the fifth week in a row Rhyne Howard is the frontrunner for the 2022 WNBA ROY. However, keep an eye on NaLyssa Smith as she is making a strong case for those same honors. Does Howard have this award on lockdown or will Smith or another rookie make it a tight race? No one knows for certain but it is a delight watching these rookies impact the league at such an early stage.

RHYNE HOWARD

There are not enough good things that can be said about Rhyne Howard and her WNBA game. This week she scored career highs with 25 points and six made threes in a tough loss to the Phoenix Mercury. Her shooting percentage in that game was 50%, including 50% from behind the arc. Pretty impressive considering she was guarded by Diamond DeShields, Diana Taurasi, and Skylar Diggins-Smith.

In addition, Howard is currently 12th in the league in scoring (16.5 PPG), 11th in three point percentage (39.8%) and third in the league in three pointers made (35). As the season progresses, look for her to improve in the areas of: assists, rebounding, and off ball movement. If she makes any small improvements, this will be a near runaway 2022 WNBA ROY campaign. The future of the WNBA is now and Howard’s game is a dream.

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NALYSSA SMITH

What a week for NaLyssa Smith. If she continues on this path, the 2022 WNBA ROY race is going to be neck-and-neck. In three games last week, Smith averaged 18.3 PPG and 10 RPG. Not to mention against the Minnesota Lynx she notched her third double-double with 21 points (a career high) and 14 rebounds. Smith shot a scorching 8/10 from the field and 2/2 from three point range helping the Fever to a much needed victory.

Overall, Smith gets it done from just about anywhere on the court. She is sixth in the league in rebounds (8.3 RPG) and 10th amongst forwards in scoring (13.7 PPG). In order to elevate her game and solidify her place as a 2022 WNBA ROY contender Smith needs to improve free-throw percentage, decrease turnovers, and make her defensive presence known in the paint. Do not sleep on this other “future is now” superstar in the making.

SHAKIRA AUSTIN

Holding down the three spot this week, Shakira Austin is making consistent contributions as a starter for the Washington Mystics. On Friday, Austin had a career high 14 rebounds along with six points in a win against the Lynx. More spectacular was her 14 points on 83% FGM and 100% FTM in a win against the Chicago Sky last Wednesday. Despite limited minutes, Austin is second in the league in field goal percentage at 58.7%. Get her more minutes, get her the ball more and watch her stock soar through the roof.

REBEKAH GARDNER

At fourth for the second week in a row, Rebekah Gardner, is a valuable option off the bench for the Chicago Sky. Her best game last week was in a win against the Connecticut Sun. Gardner had 14 points, five rebounds, and three steals while shooting a solid 62.5% from the field. She is eighth in the WNBA in field goal percentage at 53.8%. That is an eye-opening shooting percentage for a guard. If Chicago is to make another championship run, Gardner will play a vital role in the process and her stout defense will play dividends. Her value to the Sky is unlimited.

QUEEN EGBO

Rounding out the 2022 WNBA ROY candidates, Queen Egbo is still fourth in the WNBA in blocks at 1.4 a game. Sometimes a player’s game fits into many categories that are not statistically transparent. Egbo is one of those players. She often draws a tough defensive assignment and has to fight inside against taller veterans. On the offensive end, Egbo clears out space for other players while also establishing her inside game. She is a very talented forward-center and is one of the most underrated rookies in the WNBA. Her stock rises as the Fever add more wins to their resume.

PARTING SHOTS

There was no movement this week in the 2022 WNBA ROY power rankings. Nonetheless, there is a lot more anticipation and excitement around the ROY race after Smith’s performance last week. It is most likely Howard’s award to win or lose, but it is nice to see a bit of competition as the season moves forward. Every week is a brand new week in the WNBA. Grab your popcorn and candy and enjoy this week’s WNBA show.

About Sharon Ostrom

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