2022 WNBA ROY Power Rankings: Rhyne Howard in Front Early


With the first full week of the 2022 WNBA season complete, it is time to pause, reflect, and collectively catch a breath. Wow, what an amazing 22 games it has been so far, especially for some of the rookies. There are currently 30 rookies in the WNBA, and only 18 of those rookies were selected in the 2022 WNBA Draft. Of the 30 rookies on a current roster, only nine are averaging 15 minutes or more of playing time a game. However early it may be, there are a few rookies that are ballin’ like veterans and vying for 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year (ROY) honors.

Rhyne Howard

The frontrunner for the 2022 WNBA ROY is a dream for Atlanta. Rhyne Howard has led her team to an early 3-1 record averaging 20.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 2.3 APG. Howard is definitely an X factor for the Dream. She creates her shot from inside or out and is shooting almost 44% from three point range.

Howard’s energy is unlimited and she jump starts the Dream’s offense. There is no ceiling for Howard and she will continue to elevate her game as the season progresses. Perhaps she will be the first player since Candace Parker to win ROY and MVP. Howard came away with the Eastern Conference Player of the Week in her first week in the WNBA (3-1 record during the week) averaging 20.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 2.3 apg.

NaLyssa Smith

Another player that is ballin’ like a veteran is NaLyssa Smith. She is averaging 13.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and shooting 40% from the field. Considering Indiana is a very young team, these are impressive numbers. Once Smith gets in a serious groove with her teammates, her stats will improve. Look for her to snag more offensive rebounds leading to more second chance scoring opportunities. Smith’s stock will rise to 2022 WNBA ROY status very quickly as Indiana finds team balance and chemistry.

Shakira Austin

At the third spot for 2022 WNBA ROY is Shakira Austin. On most other teams, Austin would already be a ROY candidate, no questions asked. However, she plays on a pretty stacked Mystics squad and, by the way, she plays with Elena Delle Donne. When Delle Donne has her rest days, Austin shines brightly. In about 18 minutes of play each game, she is averaging 6.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 52.8% from the field. It is not a matter of talent with Austin, rather a matter of opportunity and she makes the most of every minute on the court.

Queen Egbo

When discussing 2022 WNBA ROY Faves, one has to add Queen Egbo to the mix. Sure she plays with four other rookies on a very young Fever team. Perhaps her numbers do not jump out. However, Egbo puts her team in position to win on the nightly. Playing around 24 minutes a game, Egbo is averaging 6.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. It is hard to quantify what Egbo means to Indiana numbers wise but she shows up game ready every game. Count Egbo WNBA legit and a dark horse for ROY honors.

Rebekah Gardner

Rounding out the 2022 WNBA ROY Fave spotlight, give a shoutout to Rebekah Gardner. She spent the last 10 years honing her skills in Spain after being overlooked by the WNBA in 2012. In two games, Gardner averaged 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. She fits into Chicago’s system nicely and offers energy on both sides of the ball. If she keeps up her ballin’ game, Gardner may be another dark horse for ROY honors.

Looking Forward

Sadly there are not a slew of 2022 WNBA ROY candidates. However, keep an eye out for Rui Machida, Evina Westbrook, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. As Machida gets comfortable with the WNBA style of play her game will grow. Westbrook may find her groove with the Lynx and flow right into ROY contention. Unfortunately Nelson-Ododa is out with a hip injury. However, when she gets back on the court she is a definite 2022 ROY contender. It is a great season to have a great ROY race. May the basketball odds be in every player’s favor.

About Sharon Ostrom

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