WNBA

WNBA ROY Ladder: The Gap Widens (again)

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The WNBA season is about halfway through and approaching the Olympic break. Most teams have found their stride, and so have their rookies. The rookie ladder saw minimal change over the last two weeks (I did not write one last week), and it may stay that way until the end of the season. However, there are circumstances that could cause a change if a few trends stay in place.

Let’s see how the ladder looks now.

1. Michaela Onyenwere, F, New York Liberty

Season averages: 23.3 minutes, 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, .387/.329/.848 shooting splits

Team record: 8-8

Last week’s ranking: 1

Onyenwere has held down the top spot all season, and opened the gap again this week. Her efficiency has slipped a bit, but she hasn’t let it get the best of her. She constantly finds ways to make an impact with her hustle, defense, and effort. The Liberty are aiming to get back to their winning ways, and Onyenwere can still be a big part of that, especially if her latest game against the Dream gets her back on track. The rookie scored 18 points on 6-8 shooting.

2. Aari McDonald, G, Atlanta Dream

https://twitter.com/atlantadream/status/1407845115188678656?s=21

Season averages: 13.8 minutes, 6.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.2 blocks, .338/.306/.929 shooting splits

Team record: 5-9

Last week’s ranking: 2

Aari McDonald continues to be held back by lack of opportunity. She has been very productive when given playing time, yet her minutes continue to fluctuate. The absence of Tiffany Hayes should open up a chunk of minutes for McDonald, but it hasn’t quite played out that way. She inexplicably only played seven minutes (all in the first half) in the Dream’s loss to the Lynx, despite putting up 10 points during the stint.

3. Charli Collier, F/C, Dallas Wings

Season averages: 14.5 minutes, 4.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, .500/0/.643 shooting splits

Team record: 8-8

Last week’s ranking: 3

Collier finally received some steady minutes over the last few games, breaking the 20 minute mark twice. As expected, she put up good numbers in these games. In the Wings’ win over the Fever, Collier put up double-digit points for the second time this season. The increase in minutes is a good sign for Collier, as reps are the most important element for her development right now. Her defense has a long way to go, but nothing will help her improve more than facing the best bigs in the league every night. She could move up if her minutes remain consistent.

4. Dana Evans, G, Chicago Sky

Season averages: 5.7 minutes, 2.4 points, 0.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.0 blocks, .235/.316/.944 shooting splits

Team record: 9-8

Last week’s ranking: 4

Evans remains a dark horse candidate for the Rookie of the Year award, but will have to do a lot to break into the top three. She holds down the four spot this week because there was a gap between her and the others behind her. Getting traded to Chicago is great for her development, as she will have the opportunity to learn from Courtney Vandersloot and Candace Parker, but it also limits her opportunity due to the team’s overall depth. Evans produces when given minutes, but there are only so many to go around.

5. Arella Guirantes, G, Los Angeles Sparks

Season averages: 10.2 minutes, 3.4 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.2 blocks, .289/.357/.750 shooting splits

Team record: 5-6

Last week’s ranking: unranked

Guirantes has fluctuated in and out of the top five this year, but appears to be trending towards holding down a spot on the list. She is adjusting to the game as the season progresses, and had made more impact during her minutes. Guirantes isn’t seeing the playing time anyone expected pre-draft, but her improving feel for the W game is noticeable. With the Sparks’ recent roster moves, it’s not unreasonable to think Guirantes could see an elevated role going forward, and make a late-season case for Rookie of the Year.

 

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About Richmond Bailey Caldwell

Die-hard Grizzlies fan since 2009. Aspiring basketball writer and coach. University of Georgia sport management alum. Perennial first team all-defense selection.

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