Shameka Christon, New York Liberty

July 17, 2006 - Throughout the season, we will look at some of the WNBA's emerging talent and the candidates for the WNBA Most Improved Player Award. Previous winners include Sacramento's Nicole Powell, Houston's Michelle Snow and Coco and Kelly Miller. It could be more playing time, offseason development or even a new team that results in marked improvement.

Shameka Christon is providing a great second option for the Liberty.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Contributor/NBAE/Getty Images
The New York Liberty struggled in the first half of the 2006 season as they entered the All-Star break on a five-game losing streak with a 4-14 record. After two more losses on the West coast coming out of the break, not to mention the loss of All-Star guard Becky Hammon with a sprained ankle, the Liberty are all but eliminated from a playoff spot with a month to go in the season. But that does not mean it has been all glum. In fact, there have been bright spots for the young Liberty this season. One of the main shining spots for the new-look Liberty is the improvement of third-year forward Shameka Christon.

Christon, who was drafted fifth overall by the Liberty in 2004, has developed her all-around game nicely while becoming a much needed second option for the Liberty with the ability to score from anywhere on the court. The former University of Arkansas star has put up of the best numbers of her young career in just about statistical category while playing a career-high 28.4 minutes per game and starting in all 18 games played. She is currently averaging career-high's in scoring with 13.0 points per game, rebounding with 3.0 per rebounds game, and three-point percentage while shooting 34 percent from downtown.

On Friday night, Christon scored a career-high 25 points on 8-16 shooting from the field. She also set a career-high in rebounding while grabbing 8 boards against the Connecticut Sun in the first game of the season. With Hammon out on the current road trip, it has been Christon's show. She also led the way with 18 points in a loss to Phoenix on Sunday night. Christon ranks No. 5 in the WNBA in three-point field goals made (35).

The Liberty are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and are 6.5 games behind the fourth place Washington Mystics. If Hammon is able to come back to the lineup and stay healthy while Christon continues to improve and provide a second option for New York, the Liberty have bright seasons ahead of them with this young rising star.