In case you haven't noticed, Elena Delle Donne is not only the early-season favorite for Rookie of the Year
and a plausible MVP candidate (a WNBA two-fer not achieved since Candace Parker pulled off the prestigious
double back in 2008) but she is also clutch.
Two days after Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky suffered their first loss of the season to the San Antonio
Silvers, the 6-5 rookie out of Delaware found herself on the line, the scored knotted at 70-70 with just 1.8
seconds on the clock and a possible two-game losing streak staring her in the face.
Delle Donne hardly even blinked, knocking down both free throws with the calmness of a savvy veteran, and
perhaps even more impressive, nobody in the gym: teammates, opponents or fans were the least bit surprised.
Just five games into her WNBA career, and Delle Donne already has the aura of not only a superb talent, but
that of someone you can count on in crunch time.
2. Ref Cam
From the opening tip, the Ref Cam was must-see TV this weekend when Indiana hosted Phoenix as the revolutionary, innovative camera, perched on the head of referee Lamont Simpson via headband/glasses captured the exact view from an official on the court, live, for the first time ever on a professional basketball court.
Speaking of Taurasi, the Ref Cam wasn't the only eye-catching debut over the weekend, as the old Diana
Taurasi, strangely missing from the first three games of the 2013 WNBA season, made her debut on Saturday in
Indiana, and it was a sight to behold.
Shooting with confidence, driving with reckless abandon, hollering with passion and competing with fire
(including a couple of big-time collisions with Tamika Catchings), Taurasi scored 26 points, dished out five assists and grabbed four boards while personally leading Phoenix to its first victory of the young season, albeit with a key assist from an energized DeWanna Bonner (24 points, 11 rebounds).
This vintage Taurasi, vocal in the huddle and lethal on the court, emerged in the absence of injured rookie
Brittney Griner, who missed the game due to what was described as a day-to-day knee injury. Don't be
surprised if upon the big rookie's return, Vintage Taurasi remains the emotional and physical leader of the
Mercury as they battle for a return to the playoffs after missing the 2012 postseason.
4. Mystics For Real?
Don't look now, but the Washington Mystics, a squad which underwent a major overhaul this past off-season, is
hitting on all cylinders to start the WNBA season, rolling out to a 3-1 record, including impressive wins over
Tina Charles, Kara Lawson and the Connecticut Sun and Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx.
Head Coach Mike Thibault, Eastern Conference Player of the Week Ivory Latta, Kia Vaughn and rookies
Tayler Hill, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Emma Meesseman are the key newcomers, combining with longtime standouts
Crystal Langhorne, Monique Curry and Matee Ajavon, to great success thus far in 2013.
The Mystics host the
defending WNBA Champion Fever on Sunday June 16, prior to three-game swing out West (@Seattle June 18,
@Phoenix June 21 and @Los Angeles June 23), which should go a long way in determining whether the fast start
by Washington is part of a sustainable drive to the playoffs.
5. Rookies Making the Grade
While Griner, Delle Donne and Tulsa point guard Skylar Diggins have been grabbing big minutes for their
respective teams, early returns indicate that lesser known rookies are also making an impact for their teams
Davellyn Whyte is the fourth highest scoring rookie in the league (behind the aforementioned Big Three),
averaging 6.3 points per game for the San Antonio Silver Stars. The New York Liberty's Kelsey Bone is fifth in
rookie scoring (6.0 ppg) while second only to Griner in rookie rebounding (4.8 rpg).
Ruffin-Pratt is sixth in
rookie scoring (6.0 ppg) and seventh in rebounds (2.5), while Atlanta's Alex Bentley (7th in rookie scoring,
2nd in rookie assists) is doing a strong job for the Dream. With Erin Phillips out of the Fever lineup due to
injury, rookie Layshia Clarendon is doing a solid job, (8th in both rookie scoring and rebounds).