Rookie Rankings: July 28, 2008

July 28, 2008 -- “Expect Great” was the WNBA’s slogan entering the season and although it applied to the whole league, it is easy to say that a lot more was expected out of this season’s draft class than any other in recent memory. Led by NCAA champ and U.S. Team member Candace Parker, this year’s crop of rookies was hyped as possibly the most talented one the WNBA has ever produced. With the league going on break for nearly a month due to the Olympics, it is the perfect time to look back on whether the Class of 2008 has lived up to the hype and so far the answer is a resounding yes.

Parker has exceeded expectations if that was possible. She nearly posted a triple-double in her first game and hasn’t looked back since, dunking in consecutive games, posting a 40-point game and making her Sparks a must-see attraction around the league. Sylvia Fowles, the second pick, missed over a month with a knee injury and is just getting back on track so it is tough to measure her success so far but nearly everyone else taken in the first round has made an immediate impact.

Candice Wiggins has been instant offense off the Minnesota bench and was named June’s Rookie of the Month. If not for Parker’s stellar season, Wiggins would likely be a runaway Rookie of the Year winner in any other season. Alexis Hornbuckle and Tasha Humphrey have earned minutes on a veteran-laded Shock team and Matee Ajavon (Houston), Essence Carson (New York) and Amber Holt (Connecticut) have all contributed for playoff hopefuls. University of Maryland teammates Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper have also had their shining moments for the Mystics and Monarchs, respectively.

The second and third rounds have also provided plenty of steady contributors as well. Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston have been mainstays for the Lynx. Shannon Bobbit has emerged as a starter at the point in Los Angeles. Throw in 2007 draft pick Sandrine Gruda, who is in her first season with the Sun and it is easy to see that this year’s class is living up to the hype.

Throughout the 2008 WNBA season, WNBA.com will run its completely unofficial Rookie Rankings, highlighting the play of the top five rookies to this point. Here's a look at our sixth installment.


No. 1: Candace Parker, L.A. Sparks (1st pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
26 34.6 18.8 .515 8-20 9.4 3.5 1.3 2.2
Skinny: Parker really picked up her scoring in July by scoring over 20 points on six different occasions, including a 40-point outburst following a 31-point effort. She also posted eight double-doubles in the month and has scored in double figures in every game this season. She continues to lead the league in rebounding and is up to fifth in scoring. She'll look to follow up her big July with a stellar August with the U.S. Team at the Olympics.

No. 2: Candice Wiggins, Minnesota Lynx (3rd pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
24
28.0 16.4 .409 30-91 3.5 3.2 1.7 0.2
Skinny: Wiggins missed her chance to square off with Parker on Sunday when she was forced to sit out with a lower back injury she aggravated on Thursday against the Fever. She was on a hot stretch before the injury with two of her highest scoring games of the season. The 5-foot-11 sharpshooter netted 27 points in a loss to Comets on July 17 and fired in 24 in a win over the Silver Stars the 19th.


No. 3: Nicky Anosike, Minnesota Lynx (16th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
26 27.1 9.0 .435 0-1 6.4 1.3 2.5 1.1
Skinny: Anosike continues to be a steady inside presence for the Lynx , who continue to hang around in the playoff chase. She turned in her third double-double of the season on July 24 in a win over the Fever. She has 10 straight games with at least seven points and is leading the league with 2.5 steals a game.


No. 4: Matee Ajavon, Houston Comets (5th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
26 17.6 8.3 .335 10-53 1.9 1.7 0.9 0.2
Skinny: It looked like Ajavon finally had the league figured out with a 24-point performance on June 28 followed by a 14-point effort. But the 5-8 guard went in a slump and averaged under four points a game over her next seven. She finished strong though with three straight games in double figures to help the Comets extend their winning streak to five games.

No. 5: Charde Houston, Minnesota Lynx (30th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
25 17.2 7.8 .461 4-15 3.4 0.7 0.8 0.3
Skinny: Houston's up-and-down season reached a peak right before the WNBA's Olympic break. Houston, who scored at least 15 points in three of her first four games this season, had reached double figures in only one of her previous 11 games before averaging 14 points a game over her last three games before the break. She turned in a strong performance in the finale, scoring 15 points off the bench vs. L.A. despite being listed as doubtful with a knee injury.

Honorable Mention:
  • Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky (8.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 21.1 MPG)
  • Tamera Young, Atlanta Dream (8.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 24.8 MPG)
  • Sandrine Gruda, Connecticut Sun (6.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 15.7 MPG)
  • Tasha Humphrey, Detroit Shock (7.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 13.5 MPG)
  • Amber Holt, Connecticut Sun (6.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 20.7 MPG)
  • Crystal Kelly, Sacramento Monarchs (7.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 15.2 MPG)
  • More »

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