WNBA

WNBA ROY Ladder: Stumped by Sample Sizes

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The WNBA schedule this year has been a bit of a head-scratcher at times. Some teams will play three or four times a week, while others play once or sometimes not at all. The discrepancies can make gauging player rankings incredibly difficult.

This week’s ladder begs an age-old question: how does sample size impact rankings? The dilemma: Aari McDonald played three games this week, while Michaela Onyenwere played just one. I wrote last week that the gap between the two was closer than any gap we had seen this season, but where does the gap stand now? Aari had a down week, but Michaela put up her worst showing as a pro. Is that enough to swap them? Are they tied? I thought long and hard on this one.

Here are my rankings for the week.

1. Michaela Onyenwere, F, New York Liberty

Season averages: 23 minutes, 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks, .407/.419/.875 shooting splits

Team record: 6-4

Last week’s ranking: 1

Onyenwere barely hangs on to number one in this week’s ranking. In her lone game this week, she shot 0-7 from the field, registering only three points via free throws. She did pitch in three rebounds and a block in a tight win over Phoenix. She was active and involved despite her rough shooting night, and never once seemed to be down on herself, which is huge for a rookie.

Onyenwere’s cold shooting night might have been caused by a hard fall early in the game. You can see the fall and her reaction to it here:

Between that and it only being one game, Michaela gets the benefit of the doubt this week and holds on to the top spot. She has an even smaller cushion now, though.

2. Aari McDonald, G, Atlanta Dream

Season averages: 14.7 minutes, 6.6 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.3 blocks, .328/.276/.909 shooting splits

Team record: 5-6

Last week’s ranking: 2

When Aari plays, Aari produces. That held true this week. She was a bit quieter than she was last week, but did enough to hold down the second spot. She didn’t shoot particularly well over the Dream’s three games, but she had an assist in every game and got to the free throw line a bit.

Even when McDonald’s shots aren’t falling, she impacts the Dream. Her defense has been phenomenal, and she moves the ball well in the offense. She likes to get out in the fast break, which she often starts with a deflection or steal.

3. Charli Collier, F/C, Dallas Wings

Season averages: 13.1 minutes, 4.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.3 blocks, .538/0/.500 shooting splits

Team record: 5-6

Last week’s ranking: 3

Charli Collier continues to tread water, holding down the number three spot for the fourth time. She saw consistent minutes this week, and was fairly productive during them. Collier faced off against two of the league’s premier bigs in Brittney Griner and Liz Cambage, and was limited by foul trouble in each game. However, she still rebounded well and scored efficiently, going 5/7 from the field over these three games. She shot particularly well from the mid-range.

This was one of those learning weeks for the young center, and she handled it well enough to hold her spot. If this is where her minutes numbers remain, she likely won’t be able to move up, though.

4. DiJonai Carrington, G/F, Connecticut Sun

Season averages: 10.8 minutes, 2.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, .342/.182/.500 shooting splits

Team record: 8-3

Last week’s ranking: 4

DiJonai’s ranking was tough to gauge for all the same reasons Michaela’s was. The Sun only had one game this week, a blowout loss to the Storm, in which DiJonai recorded her first start. The rookie struggled from the field, but led the team in rebounds in only 15 minutes of playing time.

As always, Carrington’s case remains rooted in her overall impact for the Sun. These next few games without Jonquel Jones will provide her with ample opportunity to improve it. Curt Miller seems to trust her quite a bit.

5. Dana Evans, G, Chicago Sky

Season averages: 6.1 minutes, 2.1 points, 0.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.0 blocks, .200/.300/1.00 shooting splits

Team record: 4-7

Last week’s ranking: unranked

This week’s new addition to the list, Dana Evans should be considered a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate. After being traded to Chicago, her playing time has doubled, and she looked more and more comfortable each game.

In the Sky’s two games against the Fever, Evans averaged 7 points, knocking down two of her four three point attempts and all six of her free throws. Getting an offensive rhythm is vital to her game as a scoring-minded guard. Sharing the court with other offensive weapons like Candace Parker, Diamond DeShields, and Courtney Vandersloot should allow Evans to maintain that rhythm as the season progresses.

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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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