The WNBA season is now one and a half months old and some of the rookies are making a splash.
The WNBA draft had some very talented players this year. The first pick in the draft was Kelsey Plum who set records throughout college. It is time to see how they are going, counting back from five to one.
5. Stephanie Talbot
Stephanie Talbot was a late call up by Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. Talbot is a 23 year old rookie who has spent time playing in Australia. She was the rookie of the year in the WNBL in 2013 and has represented Australia at a junior level. She was originally drafted back in the 2014 in the third round but never played for the Mercury until this year. It is safe to say Talbot is ready.
Among all rookies, Talbot is currently sitting in second in rebounds (3.8 per game) and steals (1.0 per game). Sheis sitting third in blocks (0.3 per game), fourth in points (5.6 per game) as well as equal fourth in assists (1.5). These numbers are backed up with a slash line of 49/41/59.
It is her 59 percent free throw shooting and her rookie leading fouls per game (2.6) which keep Talbot in the fifth spot. She is more than doing herself proud on a very competitive Mercury team.
4. Kaela Davis
Kaele Davis is the first of the rookies on this list who was actually drafted. Such is the nature of this draft, the University of South Carolina graduate was taken with the tenth pick. She was blessed in college to have the great Dawn Staley as her coach and this is showing through in her play.
Among all rookies, Davis is playing well for the Dallas Wings. Davis is equal second in assists (1.6 per game), third in points (6.6 per game), sixth in steals (0.6 per game) and ninth in rebounds (1.6 per game). Her slash line is the least impressive of the top five being 36/35/74.
As a rookie, these are good numbers but she is on a young team. It is easier for a rookie too get numbers on a team which is rebuilding than a team with established stars.
3. Sami Whitcomb
Sami Whitcomb has been a sensation in her first season in the WNBA. She got the entire attention of the League when she put the Liberty to the sword and scored 22 points. She won that game for the Seattle Storm, as a rookie. Whitcoomb has been around the world playing basketball and it is showing in her play. Her story is an inspiration for those who have been told no.
Among all rookies, Whitcomb has taken the second most three point shots (47). She has made the most of any rookie (19). She was bought to the team as a floor spacer and she has certainly provided this skill. Whitcomb is fourth in steals (0.8 per game), fifth in points, (5.3 per game) and seventh in rebounds (1.8 per game). Her slash line is 43/40/88 which is getting close to the 50/40/90 all shooters aspire to.
Statistically, she is not as impressive as Talbot. However, it is the impact of Whitcomb on the court and on the game which is so impressive. Whitcomb has won the game for the Storm against the Liberty and wwhen they were down against the Connecticut Sun, the team was totally different when she came on the court. Whitcomb is almost the definition of a clutch shooter and her hustle is going to become stuff of legend. Not bad for an un-drafted free agent signing.
2. Brittney Sykes
Brittney Sykes, the number seven draft pick in the 2017 WNBA draft has started to really ht her straps in the last seven games for the Atlanta Dream. The 5-foot-9 guard out of Syracuse has had five of the last seven games in double figures.
Among all rookies, Sykes is second in points (8.0 per game) She is third in rebounds (3.2 per game). In a surprising stat, Sykes is second in blocks (0.5 per game). Sykes is sixth in assists (1.4 per game) and equal eighth is steals (0.5 per game). Her slash line is 47/27/48.
It is her last three games which have moved Sykes up into the second spot. In the loss to the Chicago Sky she had 18 points and nine rebounds. Against the Los Angeles Sparks Sykes had 15 points, four rebounds and four assists, again in a loss. In the win against the New York Liberty, Sykes had 19 points and nine rebounds. Pretty impressive numbers for a rookie.
1. Allisha Gray
For the second straight month, Allisha Gray is the clear standout as the best rookie of the draft. She was taken by the Dallas Wings with the fourth pick and has played better than the top three. In fairness to Alaina Coates, she has been injured. However the South Carolina graduate has been simply outstanding and does not appear to be slowing down.
Among all rookies, Gray is first in points (12.1 per game), a full 4.1 per game ahead of her nearest rival. She is also leading the rookie class in rebounds (4.6 per game) in steals (1.3 per game) and blocks (0.7 per game). Gray is equal second in assists (1.6 per game). Her slash line is 43/29/79 showing there is still room for improvement in her outside shot.
Starting alongside the sensation who is Skylar Diggins-Smith does make life easier for the rookie but it is the aplomb which which she is playing which has taken the WNBA by storm. It is going to take an amazing second half of the season by another player to usurp Gray from Rookie of the Year.