Is Caitlin Clark or Angel Reese the best newcomer yet? WNBA rookie rankings

10 Min Read

Even in a game where Angel Reese was ejected, her impact was undeniable. The Chicago Sky rookie was ejected for picking up a second technical foul with just over two minutes remaining in Tuesday’s loss to the New York Liberty. Her second foul was rescinded by the WNBA a day later.

Nevertheless, Reese had already scored 13 points and 10 rebounds, recording her second double-double. It’s the kind of statline Chicago has already come to expect from the No. 7 pick in April’s draft. Reese has been a consistent contributor through the first month of the WNBA season, but she’s not alone in her rookie class.

From their final college season through the WNBA Draft to the start of their pro careers, these rookies have brought new star power and fascinating dynamics to the league. They are working on the problems as they adapt to a higher level, but there is no doubt that they are achieving results in meaningful ways.

While it feels like the year has only just begun, some franchises are already somehow past the quarter mark of the season. With that, here is our look at the top five rookies from the first month of the season.

15.6 PPG | 6.4 APG | 5.1 RPG

Clark has been the center of attention during her first month in the WNBA, especially last week. But despite some problems, she has still found ways to produce. She is aggressive in attacking the basket and has already attempted 48 free throws, the seventh most in the WNBA. She also had an impact on Indiana’s offense despite not hitting three-pointers at nearly the same clip as Iowa. Reese has certainly made a case for the No. 1 spot, but Clark also applies significantly more defensive pressure than any rookie. Her 25.8 percent usage rate is more than that of WNBA stars like Skylar Diggins-Smith, Breanna Stewart, Kelsey Plum and Sabrina Ionescu. She has shown growing pains and reasons for optimism. A focus in June should be on reducing turnovers, as Clark leads the league (56) and has 21 more than Phoenix Mercury guard Natasha Cloud, who ranks second.

2. Angel Reese, Chicago Sky

10.8 PPG | 9.0 RPG | 5.0 ORPG

At LSU, Reese recorded double-doubles almost every night. So far she’s been pretty close. Entering Thursday night’s game against the Washington Mystics, Reese had recorded at least 8 points and 8 rebounds in six of her eight games.

Reese’s impact on Chicago has been tangible. She leads all rookies with 9 rebounds per game and leads all WNBA players with her average of 5 offensive rebounds per game. Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon, a Naismith Hall of Fame player, likes what Reese offers, especially on the glass.

“It’s a talent,” Weatherspoon said two weeks ago. “She’s just ruthless. She has a relentless pursuit of the ball and that’s who she is, that’s what it’s all about.”

Reese regularly takes high-quality rebounding positions and is aggressive in attacking the rim when not being shut out by big opponents. On offense, she has also shown that she is not afraid of contact, with at least six free throws in six separate games.

Reese’s impact was evident despite other limitations in her play, making her first month particularly impressive.

So far, almost all of her offense has come around the rim. According to Synergy Sports, she has attempted just nine jump shots this season, only one of which has been made. She even struggled around the basket, shooting 29.9 percent. Still, minimizing Reese’s importance is a concern for Sky opponents.

Improving her perimeter shooting and her ability to finish around the rim will be critical to her growth. Chicago guard Marina Mabrey has also assisted Reese on just six baskets, an indication that there is room for improvement in Chicago’s pick-and-roll action. But if this is Reese’s floor, the Sky have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their future.

See also  NWSL Power Rankings: Orlando Pride Extends Undefeated Streak to 11, North Carolina Courage Continues to Decline

8.0 PPG | 5.4RPG | 2.6 BPG

Brink, like Reese and Clark, has shown flashes of the skills that made her a star at Stanford. Although the Sparks are just 2–7, Brink scored a career-high 21 points in 23 minutes against the Dallas Wings on May 26, and grabbed at least 5 rebounds six times. Coach Curt Miller has not expanded the use of the No. 2 pick. Brink has yet to play more than 30 minutes in a match, but she has shown her attacking repertoire. According to Synergy Sports, she is solid in the catch-and-shoot range and looks comfortable around the rim. She is shooting 63 percent from the field. Although Brink has built a reputation in college as a vaunted shot-blocker (and is averaging 2.6 blocks per game so far), some opponents have been able to compete with her. Brink is allowing the bigs she guards to shoot 43.9 percent.

GettyImages 2156276946 scaled e1717701005532

Despite the relatively limited minutes, Rickea Jackson’s three-point shooting and rebounding stood out. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

9.1 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 46.7 FG

Jackson has played the fewest minutes (208) of anyone in my current top five, but she has taken advantage of her opportunities. She is tied for the third-most three-pointers (seven) among rookies, but she shoots the second-best percentage of all rookies with at least 10 attempts (only Alissa Pili is better). She is a solid rebounder (3.0 per game) and has proven she can score in several facets. Sometimes that has taken the form of being aggressive in transition, other times cutting from behind the arc or to the rim. She has made at least 50 percent of her shot attempts in five of nine games, but has done so just once since being named to the starting lineup on May 28.

See also  Does lightning-rod umpire Angel Hernandez deserve his villainous reputation?

6.6PPG | 5.0 APG | 2.6RPG

Uzun will make her WNBA debut this summer, but she is no stranger to playing with – and against – some of the best leagues in the world. The 26-year-old guard played for Turkish EuroLeague champion Fenerbahçe last winter, where she played alongside notables such as Napheesa Collier, Kayla McBride, Natasha Howard, Nina Milic and Emma Meesseman. Uzun made the Wings’ opening night roster after signing a training camp contract and was inserted into the franchise’s starting lineup.

She was immediately trusted to get the best out of a team with top-four ambitions. Uzun is averaging 31.3 minutes per game, second-highest on the roster and second-highest among rookies behind Clark. While she continues to figure out how to play alongside Arike Ogunbowale, the early returns are positive. Twelve of Uzun’s 40 assists have been to Ogunbowale, and she has also found Dallas’ Teaira McCowan and Monique Billings several times. In addition to her offensive play, the 6-foot-4 Uzun has been an excellent defender thus far, with opponents shooting just 28.6 percent on shots she guarded, according to Synergy Sports.

She plays with fearlessness on both ends. Exhibit A: It didn’t go down, but she almost made the shot of the year when she threw an inbounds from Sun center Brionna Jones with less than 10 seconds remaining in a one-point game, collected her own pass and shot. .

Others considered: Julie Vanloo (Mystics), Pili (Lynx), Aaliyah Edwards (Mystics), Kate Martin (Las Vegas Aces)

(Top photos of Caitlin Clark, left, and Angel Reese: Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *