Welcome to a new season of the WNBA Pick One Challenge where we will be picking one WNBA player every day and totaling their points, rebounds, and assists. The entry that finishes with the highest total at the end of the season will win two authentic WNBA jerseys, including one signed by a player of your choice. There are several different ways that you can take part in the game, either by taking on the rest of the entries, starting a league with your friends, or taking on my picks in the "Beat The Guru" league. To join my league just search for "Beat The Guru" at this page.
This season's WNBA schedule features 72 days with at least one game between May and August, so you will be selecting 72 different players. That will make the game a bit less challenging than last season, where you had 79 days of games where you had to select a player.
Rookies Double Your Points
The most crucial rule to know about the Pick One Challenge is that all rookies will be credited with double points. For example, if you pick Connecticut's Tina Charles on opening day against New York and she scores 20 points with 10 rebounds and five assists, your entry will receive a total of 70 points. Charles and other top picks like Minnesota's Monica Wright and Connecticut's Kelsey Griffin should be valuable selections this season, but there are always some later picks who emerge as top contributors during the season. A good example from last season was the Sun's Anete Jekabsone-Zogota, who ranked fourth among all rookies in PRA (points/rebounds/assists per game) after joining the team in June as a free agent.
The season begins on Saturday with the defending champion Phoenix Mercury hosting the Los Angeles Sparks, live on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. ET. There is plenty of star power in this game, but my choice for Saturday is Candice Dupree, who will be making her debut for Phoenix after being acquired in a blockbuster trade over the offseason. Dupree enters her fifth WNBA season after four excellent campaigns with the Chicago Sky.
The choice for Sunday is New York's Janel McCarville,, who will be entering her fourth season as a starter for the Liberty. McCarville, who will play a big role on a Liberty team expected to contend for the playoffs, is coming off of a double-double in her preseason game. She totaled 13 points and ten boards against the Sun on Tuesday, and I'd be very happy with a similar line on Sunday evening.
Last Season's Top Ten
The top ten returning players in combined average points, assists, and rebounds are listed here along with their outlook for 2010. All of these players should be the ones to choose when you are looking for an almost guaranteed boost in your points total, but be sure to spread them out across the season.
1. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
PRA: 29.6 (20.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.5 apg)
Diana Taurasi led all WNBA players in PRA for another season and also capture her second WNBA title in three years. Taurasi will be breaking in some new teammates in 2010, but don't expect any drop off for one of the greatest WNBA players ever as she enters her prime and looks for championship number three.
2. Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty
PRA: 28.3 (19.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.0 apg)
Cappie Pondexter will be a player to watch in 2010 after moving back east to the New York Liberty, where she will team up with college teammate Essence Carson. One of the elite guards in the WNBA, Pondexter should be the franchise player the Liberty has lacked since Becky Hammon's trade and will look to take New York back into the postseason. She got off to a decent start with a near triple-double in her preseason game, although she struggled to a 5-23 shooting night.
3. Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars
PRA: 27.8 (19.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.0 apg)
Becky Hammon enters her 12th WNBA season and shows no sign of slowing down after a strong EuroLeague campaign in Spain. She will lead the Silver Stars again in a tough Western Conference where the fight for a playoff berth will be fierce. The Silver Stars are also breaking in a new head coach, but if there's any WNBA player who could be a coach on the floor, it's Hammon.
4. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
PRA: 27.0 (19.2 ppg, 70 rpg, 0.8 apg)
Lauren Jackson posted her lowest scoring and rebound averages since 2005 last season, but it was still good enough to rank fourth among all players in PRA. Jackson is completely healthy and was in camp for Seattle, so expect a big year in 2010 with a veteran Storm team that will contend for a Western Conference title and hopefully more.
5. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
PRA: 26.7 (21.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.5 apg)
Seimone Augustus was on her way to an MVP-type season in 2009 before a knee injury cut short her year after only six games. Augustus is still on the sidelines after surgery to her torso shortly before training court. When she gets back on the court (she is expected to be out about a month) and if she returns to form, Augustus will be one of the top candidates to lead the league in scoring.
6. Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
PRA: 26.3 (18.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.6 apg)
Sophia Young might get overlooked by some but she has established herself as one of the WNBA's top young forwards after her first four season in San Antonio. With last year's starting center and double-figure scorer Anne Wauters taking this year off, Young will be under more pressure to produce points in the paint for the Silver Stars in 2010. Her scoring average has increased every season and I wouldn't be surprised to see another jump as she moves into the prime of her career.
7. Candice Dupree, Phoenix Mercury
PRA: 25.8 (15.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.2 apg)
Candice Dupree, the second in last year's top ten to change teams for 2010, will move to the defending champion Phoenix Mercury. Already one of the league's top forwards, a move to Phoenix and their run-and-gun offense should see Dupree's numbers take a big jump up. She will be one of many Mercury offensive threats that opponents will have to prepare for and should be in line for a career year. Dupree is also one of the league's most durable players, missing only one game in her first four seasons.
8. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
PRA: 25.4 (13.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.6 apg)
Candace Parker checked in at eighth last season in PRA, but don't be surprised if she is among the top five after 2010 is in the books. The 2008 MVP/Rookie of the Year missed the beginning of last season after the birth of her daugther, and her scoring dropped to 13.1 points after 18.5 in 2008. With Lisa Leslie retired, the torch is now passed to Parker as the face of the Sparks and she will be looking to carry the team to her first WNBA title. Parker has the potential to be one of the best WNBA players ever and she will be fun to watch this season in the purple and gold.
9. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
PRA: 25.4 (15.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.1 apg)
Tamika Catchings is the heart and soul of the Indiana Fever and will be heading into 2010 on a mission after just missing out on a championship in 2009. Catchings, along with teammate Katie Douglas, should be in uniform for Saturday's season opener after falling short in the Turkish league finals while playing for Galatasaray on Tuesday night. As any WNBA fan knows, a healthy Catchings can always fill the box score and is a solid choice against any opponent.
10. Asjha Jones, Connecticut Sun
PRA: 25.0 (16.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.4 apg)
Asjha Jones had another excellent season in 2009 after breaking into the WNBA's elite in 2008, but it ended on a sour note as she missed the last 11 games with an achilles tendon injury. Lindsay Whalen's trade leaves Jones as the Sun's top returning player, and she will be the main veteran scorer for a Sun team that many are picking to finish on top of the Eastern Conference. She has been limited in the preseason as she recovers from offseason surgery on the achilles, so tread carefully until you see her back on the court for the Sun.
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.