Rankings Take Form
By Mark Bodenrader, WNBA.com

May 27, 2010 -- Now it's starting to get interesting. With a little over a week of the 2010 WNBA season in the books, we're getting a sense of who's for real, who has the potential to be for real and who isn't quite living up to expectations.

Right now for rookies it's all about being in the right situation. Take center Tina Charles and forward Kelsey Griffin, two highly touted rookies out of college whose WNBA careers are off to strong starts with the Connecticut Sun. After missing out on the playoffs last season, the Sun were in dire need of a shake-up, and that's just what they did, with two main parts of the overhaul being Charles and Griffin.

So far, head coach Mike Thibault has had no reservations about giving the No. 1 and No. 3 selections from the draft a chance to show what they can do. And there's a lot of unselfish talent around them, including veteran guard Kara Lawson and up-and-coming point guard Renee Montgomery. Also helping Charles and Griffin is that fact that accomplished bigs Asjha Jones, who is recovering from surgery, and Sandrine Gruda, who is still overseas and will join the team soon, are not taking up minutes and shots.

In other words, Charles and Griffin find themselves in ideal situations (for now) and they have made the most of them. And the Sun are benefiting, too, off to a 2-1 start and appear to be a contender in the East. Let's see how everyone adapts though when Jones and Gruda return.

You would think the same would be true for Minnesota's Monica Wright, who thanks to Candice Wiggins and Seimone Augustus being sidelined, has not only gotten the opportunity to start all four games for the Lynx, but to be a big part of the team's offense. But Wright, who shot 44 percent from the field during her senior season at Virginia, has struggled mightily with her shot while getting her WNBA feet wet, making just 34 percent of her attempts from the floor so far. It's tough to blame a rookie for a team's dismal beginning to the 2010 season (1-3), but high draft picks are expected to be impact players in today's WNBA. Perhaps the combined expectations put on her and her team have Wright pressing a bit.

Wiggins is set to come back to the team very soon, then Augustus shortly after that, so keep an eye on Wright. She may need to prove to Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve in the next few games that she can be relied upon to be a consistent offensive threat to remain a significant part of the rotation. But maybe having less weight on her shoulders, and having defenses focus on the Lynx' established stars instead, will allow Wright to flourish a bit more.

And, yes, you can thank me for not making strained analogies to "Jersey Shore" when talking about situations. Fist pump.

No. 1: Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun (1st pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
3 30.3 16.3 .500 0-1 9.7 0.3 1.0 2.0
Skinny: Three games for Charles so far and two double-doubles. However, her last outing lacked the "wow" factor we were getting used to with Charles. Sunday against Washington, the UConn product scored just 10 points on just 3-of-8 shooting and pulled down a season-low eight rebounds in 30 minutes. The good news? Connecticut was still able to win rather easily. The teams will square off again Sunday after the Sun meet with Minnesota and Nicky Anosike on Thursday. The Anosike-Charles battle should be a fun one.
Previous ranking: 1


No. 2: Kelsey Griffin, Connecticut Sun (3rd pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
3 23.7 8.7 .389 1-3 6.7 2.0 0.3 0.0
Skinny: While most rookies have struggled with consistency early on, Griffin has been on of the most efficient first-year players out there. The aforementioned contest between the Sun and Mystics saw Griffin score a season-high 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting while pulling down six boards. And she racked up those numbers in just 20 minutes of action. The biggest thing to come out of that game though was that Thibault gave Griffin her first start of the season, and she responded..
Previous ranking: 3

No. 3: Natasha Lacy, Tulsa Shock (28th pick - 2008)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
4 20.8 7.8 .407 0-1 3.5 4.8 2.5 0.2
Skinny: Safe to say Lacy is for real yet? While she's not exactly lighting up WNBA arenas with her scoring, Lacy has been a big contributor in a lot of ways for the Shock when coach Nolan Richardson gives her the opportunity to shine. Most recently, she actually came close to a triple-double against Phoenix, collecting nine points, seven assists and eight boards. In the team's previous game, she racked up seven assists and four steals to go along with eight points. Despite being this productive, Lacy has yet to start a game for the Shock, who, granted, are a guard-heavy team. It'll be interesting to monitor that situation in the coming games.
Previous ranking: 4


No. 4: Monica Wright, Minnesota Lynx (2nd pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
4 28.5 13.3 .344 4-15 3.5 1.0 0.8 0.2
Skinny: Perhaps more troubling than Wright's poor shooting from the field is her inability to get to the free throw line. After attempting six free throws in the season opener, Wright has been to free throw line just twice in the past three games combined (the Lynx lost all three). Any follower of basketball will tell you that when a player is not getting to the line, he or she is not being aggressive enough on offense and settling for outside shots. Right now the Lynx need a player who can create her own shot and put pressure on the defense. And that player needs to be Wright.
Previous ranking: 2

No. 5: Epiphanny Prince, Chicago Sky (4th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
4 21.8 9.5 .448 2-6 0.8 2.5 2.2 0.5
Skinny: Not much has gone right for Chicago this season, as the team is still searching for its first win (0-4), but Prince is helping to provide Sky fans with hope. As is pretty standard for WNBA players that come from Rutgers, Prince has made her true mark on the defensive end. Currently, she's averaging 2.25 steals per game, a clip that is seventh-best in the league. But she's also shown some promise on the offensive side. In the team's tough loss to Indiana on Saturday, Prince scored a season-high 20 points off the bench on 6-of-10 shooting while also dishing out four assists.
Previous ranking: NR

Honorable Mention:
  • Jene Morris, Indiana Fever (4.7 PPG, 1.3 APG, .667 FG%)
  • Andrea Riley, Los Angeles Sparks (6.3 PPG, 2.0 APG, 1.7 SPG)
  • Allison Hightower, Connecticut Sun (3.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 9.7 MPG)
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