Is Caitlin Clark or Angel Reese the High W.N.B.A Rookie So Far?

by Christina S. Brown
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Even in a recreation the place Angel Reese was ejected, her influence was plain. The Chicago Sky rookie was tossed for selecting up a second technical with simply over two minutes remaining in Tuesday’s loss to the New York Liberty. Her second foul was rescinded a day later by the WNBA.

Nonetheless, Reese had already logged 13 factors and 10 rebounds, recording her second double-double. It’s the form of statline Chicago has already come to count on from the No. 7 decide in April’s draft. Reese has been a constant contributor over the primary month of the WNBA season, however she isn’t alone amongst members of her rookie class.

From their last faculty seasons by means of the WNBA Draft to the beginning of their professional careers, these rookies have introduced new star energy and an interesting dynamic to the league. They’re understanding the kinks as they regulate to a better degree, however there’s little doubt they’re delivering in significant methods.

Although it feels just like the yr has simply began, one way or the other, someway, some franchises have already crossed the quarter mark of the season. With that, right here’s our take a look at the 5 greatest rookies the primary month of the season.


15.6 PPG | 6.4 APG | 5.1 RPG

Clark has been the focus throughout her first month within the WNBA, particularly final week. However amid some struggles, she nonetheless has discovered methods to provide. She is aggressive attacking the basket, already trying 48 free throws, that are the seventh most within the WNBA. She’s additionally impacted Indiana’s offense regardless of not hitting 3-pointers at almost the identical clip as she did at Iowa. Reese actually has made a case for the No. 1 spot, however Clark additionally shoulders considerably extra defensive stress than any rookie. Her 25.8 p.c utilization price is greater than WNBA stars like Skylar Diggins-Smith, Breanna Stewart, Kelsey Plum and Sabrina Ionescu. She’s proven rising pains and causes for optimism. A spotlight in June ought to be reducing down on turnovers, as Clark leads the league (56) and has 21 greater than Phoenix Mercury guard Natasha Cloud, who’s second.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Has Caitlin Clark lived as much as the hype to this point in her WNBA rookie season? Specialists debate

2. Angel Reese, Chicago Sky

10.8 PPG | 9.0 RPG | 5.0 ORPG

At LSU, Reese recorded double-doubles on a close to nightly foundation. So far, she’s been fairly near that. Coming into Thursday night time’s matchup in opposition to the Washington Mystics, Reese had recorded not less than 8 factors and eight rebounds in six of her eight video games..

Reese’s influence on Chicago has been tangible. She leads all rookies with 9 rebounds per recreation and leads all WNBA gamers along with her common of 5 offensive rebounds per recreation. Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon, a Naismith Corridor of Fame participant, has taken a liking to what Reese supplies, particularly on the glass.

“It’s a knack,” Weatherspoon stated two weeks in the past. “She’s simply relentless. She does a relentless pursuit for the ball and that’s who she is, that’s what she’s about.”

Reese often establishes high-quality rebounding place and is aggressive in attacking the rim if she isn’t boxed out by opposing bigs. On offense, she additionally has already proven she’s unafraid of contact, trying not less than six free throws in six separate video games.

Reese’s influence has been evident regardless of different limitations in her recreation, making her first month particularly spectacular.

To this point, virtually all of her offense has come across the rim. She’s tried solely 9 bounce pictures this season, in response to Synergy Sports activities, making only one. Even across the basket, she has struggled, capturing 29.9 p.c. But, minimizing Reese’s significance is a spotlight for Sky opponents.

Bettering her perimeter capturing and skill to complete across the hoop shall be paramount to her development. Chicago guard Marina Mabrey has additionally assisted Reese on solely six baskets, a sign there’s room for enchancment in Chicago’s pick-and-roll motion. But when that is Reese’s flooring, the Sky have loads of causes to be optimistic about their future.

8.0 PPG | 5.4 RPG | 2.6 BPG

Brink, like Reese and Clark, has proven flashes of the abilities that made her a star at Stanford. Though the Sparks are simply 2-7, Brink scored a career-high 21 factors in 23 minutes in opposition to the Dallas Wings on Might 26, and she or he tallied not less than 5 rebounds six instances. Coach Curt Miller hasn’t stretched the No. 2 decide’s utilization. Brink has but to play greater than half-hour in a recreation however she’s displayed her offensive repertoire. She’s been stable on catch-and-shoot alternatives and appears comfy across the rim, capturing 63 p.c from the sphere, in response to Synergy Sports activities. Although Brink developed a repute as a vaunted shot-blocker in faculty (and is averaging 2.6 blocks per recreation to this point), some opposing bigs have succeeded going up in opposition to her. Brink permits bigs she’s guarding to shoot 43.9 p.c.


Regardless of slightly restricted minutes, Rickea Jackson’s 3-point capturing and rebounding have stood out. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Photographs)

9.1 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 46.7 FG

Jackson has performed the fewest minutes (208) of anybody in my present prime 5, however she’s taken benefit of her alternatives. She’s tied for the third most 3-pointers (seven) by rookies, however she’s capturing the second-best proportion of any rookie with not less than 10 makes an attempt (solely Alissa Pili is best). She’s been a stable rebounder (3.0 per recreation) and confirmed she will be able to rating in several aspects. Generally that has taken the type of being aggressive in transition, different instances from behind the arc or slashing to the rim. She’s made not less than 50 p.c of her shot makes an attempt in 5 of 9 video games, although achieved so solely as soon as since being inserted into the beginning lineup on Might 28.

6.6 PPG | 5.0 APG | 2.6 RPG

Uzun is making her WNBA debut this summer season, however she isn’t any stranger to enjoying with — and in opposition to — a few of the world’s greatest competitors. The 26-year-old guard spent final winter enjoying for EuroLeague champion Turkish membership Fenerbahçe, the place she performed alongside notables like Napheesa Collier, Kayla McBride, Natasha Howard, Nina Milic and Emma Meesseman. Uzun made the Wings’ opening night time roster after signing a coaching camp contract and was thrust into the franchise’s beginning lineup.

Instantly, she’s been trusted to attract the very best out of a staff with top-four aspirations. Uzun is averaging 31.3 minutes per recreation, the second most on the roster and the second most amongst rookies behind Clark. Although she’s persevering with to determine learn how to play alongside Arike Ogunbowale, the early returns are optimistic. Twelve of Uzun’s 40 assists have been to Ogunbowale, and she or he has additionally discovered Dallas bigs Teaira McCowan and Monique Billings on a number of events. Along with her offensive playmaking, the 5-foot-10 Uzun has been a superb defender to this point, with opponents capturing solely 28.6 p.c on pictures she’s guarding, in response to Synergy Sports activities.

She performs with fearlessness on each ends. Exhibit A: It didn’t go down, however she almost made the shot of the yr when she threw an inbounds off Solar heart Brionna Jones with lower than 10 seconds remaining in a one-point recreation, collected her personal cross, and shot it.

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

(High photographs of Caitlin Clark, left, and Angel Reese: Jeff Haynes / NBAE through Getty Photographs)

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