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2022 WNBA Rookie Power Rankings Week Ten: Rhyne Howard’s Universe

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Is there more than one Universe? More importantly, does Rhyne Howard only live in ours?

Howard is this Universe’s 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year (ROY). Unfortunately, she only played one game last week because of a shoulder injury. The Dream list Howard as day-to-day, so hopefully, she will see action in two or more contests this week. Now is an opportunity to hone in on other candidates and their impact on the league.  

Pretend there is a multiverse; in it, Howard is not playing in the WNBA. However horrifying that may sound, go with it. Who might lead the ROY power rankings?

NALYSSA SMITH

Remember your thought: a multiverse is out in the wild blue yonder, and Howard is not playing in the WNBA. Channel your inner Marvel if you must. That leaves NaLyssa Smith as the favorite.  

The Fever have won five games this season, and it does not appear the team will make it to double-digits triumphs. Considering there are seven rookies on the team, that deficiency is understandable.

However, the one playing like a veteran is Smith. She leads candidates in double-doubles (seven) and rebounding (8.4 RPG). Her 13.0 points a game and 1.4 assists (per Basketball Reference) are second amongst rookie frontrunners. These are impressive numbers for any WNBA member, let alone a first-year player. Smith is a future All-Star and will only flourish in future seasons.

REBEKAH GARDNER 

If honors went to a player on a winning team, Rebekah Gardner would receive this award. In another multiverse, she is a close second in the race. Her appearance on the court energizes Chicago. Gardner may not have all the numbers, but the odds are forever in her favor.

The one phenomenal number is her shooting 54.9% from the field. Add in 8.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.5 steals a game, and what is not to like about Gardner? Put it on record: if Chicago is to repeat, she is one of the valuable keys to that winning combination.

SHAKIRA AUSTIN

One other rookie that is having a veteran-like year is Shakira Austin. Playing 21 minutes a game, Austin contributes mightily in that timeframe. Consider her a player that blends in when needed and shines as called on. 

Stats are one way to show prowess, but there are many gray areas that numbers do not illuminate. Austin can awe with stats and excel at all the other feats that do not appear in a box score. In this Universe, tattoo future All-Star before her name.

MULTIVERSE OUT

As a reminder, Rhyne Howard is a lock for ROY. It was fun to tune in to other rookies that dazzle. Thankfully, this is not an alternate Universe without Howard.

Be sure to tune in to all the WNBA action this week. It is crunch time, and all the feels are available. Shout out to all 24 rookies on rosters. Get to a game, yell at the TV, and whatever you do, enjoy the madness.

About Sharon Ostrom

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