WNBA Pick One Challenge: Season Preview

by Matthew Brennan, WNBA.com

May 11, 2007

71 Days, 71 WNBA Players

Welcome to the first season of the WNBA Pick One Challenge. Every day you will pick a player and will score a point for each one of their points, rebounds, and assists during their game that night. The player with the highest total at the end of the regular season will win a free trip to a WNBA Finals game. This game is similiar to last season's Triple Threat Game but with one huge difference. Last year you were permitted to pick a player once a week. In the Pick One Challenge, you will only be able to pick a player once per season.

According to my WNBA pocket schedule, there are 71 days that feature at least one WNBA game during the 2007 season, so you will be selecting 71 different players from opening day on May 19th to the last day of the season on August 19th. That is an average of about five players on each WNBA team. Last year you were able to use, for example, Diana Taurasi as your entry once every seven days. Now you can only choose her once for the whole season. The Pick One Challange will definitely put your knowledge of the WNBA to the test, so do your research carefully.

Rookies Double Up

The other new wrinkle to the game this season is that all rookies will be credited with double points. For example, if you pick Jessica Davenport and she scores 10 points with five rebounds and five assists for the Liberty, your entry will receive a total of 40 points for that day. However, I am holding off for a few weeks to see how the various rookies fit into their team's rotations before choosing any for my entry.

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 2007. Please note that Lisa Leslie was actually ranked second last year, but she will sit out the 2007 season while awaiting the birth of her first child. Taj McWilliams-Franklin moves into the top 10. Last year you would have been using all of these players for your entry every week, but in the Pick One Challange it is one and done, so be sure to spread them out throughout the season.

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
PRA: 33.0 (25.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.1 apg)
It's very simple: Diana Taurasi was the best guard in the WNBA last season. She was the WNBA's leading scorer by a wide-margin (nearly 4.0 points over Seimone Augustus), ranked fifth in assists (the only player to rank in the top five in both scoring and assists), and led the league with 121 three-pointers (Katie Douglas was next with 73). The sky is the limit for Taurasi this season, so choose her for your entry when you need a big boost in the standings.

Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
PRA: 28.8 (19.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.6 apg)
Lauren Jackson continued to prove why she is one of the best players in the world after leading Australia to a World Championship in September. With Lisa Leslie sitting out this season, Jackson should be the WNBA's top frontcourt player. Jackson enjoyed another stellar campaign in the WNBA last season, ranking fifth in both scoring and rebounding. Expect another season full of double-double in 2007.

Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
PRA: 27.5 (16.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.7 apg)
Tamika Catchings has been known as one of the WNBA's best all-around players since she entered the league, so it's no surprise that she should be one of your top choices in the Pick One Challenge. Catchings ranked in the top ten in all three categories last season and is considered the WNBA player who is most likely to put a triple-double at some point during the season. She should be the franchise player in Indiana for many seasons to come.

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
PRA: 27.1 (21.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
Seimone Augustus lived up to the hype as the top overall pick last year, raking second in scoring (21.9 ppg) and playing in the WNBA All-Star Game. Augustus demonstrated that she is an outstanding scorer last season, but she will need to grab some more rebounds and assists to challenge Jackson and Taurasi for the top spot in the league. Of course, Augustus has the potential to raise her scoring average even higher now that Lindsey Harding will be feeding her the ball.

Alana Beard, Washington Mystics
PRA: 27.1 (21.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
Alana Beard's offensive production took a giant step up in her third WNBA season, as she increasing her scoring average by over 5.0 points from the 2005 season. She also posted career highs in rebounding (4.7 rpg) and assists (3.1 apg) as she led the Mystics into the playoffs. Beard who turns 25 next week, still has the potential to get even better as she enters into the prime years of her career.

Cheryl Ford, Detroit Shock
PRA: 27.1 (13.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.4 apg)
Cheryl Ford added another WNBA title to her resume last season and posted career highs in all three of the Pick One categories. Everyone already knows that Ford is the best rebounder in the WNBA (only player to average double-figures in 2006), but last season she also picked up her offensive game, checking in at 16th in the league with 13.4 ppg. Expect Ford to continue to improve as enters her fifth season with the Shock.

Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
PRA: 26.5 (18.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.2 apg)
Tina Thompson missed significant time with injury last season, but she bounced back with an outstanding showing for the U.S. National Team at the World Championships in September. When she was on the court last season she put up her usual outstanding numbers, ranking seventh in the league with 18.7 points. There is no reason why you shouldn't expect another strong season from Thompson in 2007.

Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
PRA: 25.9 (19.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 apg)
Cappie Pondexter was neck-and-neck with Augustus for Rookie of the Year honors, as they led one of the most productive rookie classes in WNBA history. Pondexter ranked fourth in the league in scoring while also contributing a fair amount of rebounds and assists. If she can increase her totals in those categories, she should be one of your top choices in the Pick One Challenge for the next decade.

Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets
PRA: 25.2 (15.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.7 apg)
Sheryl Swoopes turned in another outstanding season in 2006 for the Comets. Although her scoring dropped by 3.0 points from 2005, Swoopes did turn in her best rebounding season (5.9 rpg) since 2000 and ranked eighth in the WNBA with 3.7 assists. Expect another big year from Swoopes as she looks for another WNBA title and MVP award in her 11th season with the Houston Comets.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Los Angeles Sparks
PRA: 24.9 (12.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.5 apg)
Taj McWilliams-Franklin is the only player in last season's top 10 who will be wearing a new uniform this season after being traded to the Los Angeles Sparks. McWilliams-Franklin had a career year on the boards last season, ranking second in the league with 9.6 rebounds. WIth Lisa Leslie sitting out this year, McWilliams-Franklin will be the main intererior presence for the Sparks and should continue to rack up double-doubles.