Rookie Rankings: June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009 -- For the third straight year a heralded rookie has suffered a setback after a promising start to the season. Last year it was Chicago center Sylvia Fowles, who suffered a knee injury five games into her WNBA career. The year prior guard Lindsey Harding went down with a knee injury as well for Minnesota after playing in 20 games.

This season Marissa Coleman, the Washington Mystics' top pick in this year's draft (second overall), is the latest precocious baller to fall victim to this fate. The 6-1 guard out of Maryland will be sidelined four-to-six weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain.

On the bright side, Fowles and Harding have gone on to become two very productive players in the WNBA. However, each had their chances at capturing Rookie of the Year honors in their respective inaugural seasons severely hampered due to the amount of time missed.

It remains to be seen if the same thing will happen for Coleman, who for now occupies the No. 2 spot in the first edition of WNBA.com's 2009 Rookie Rankings after her strong performances in the Mystics' first three games. Working in Coleman's favor is that right now nobody is running away with the Rookie of the Year Award like Candace Parker did last season. And that might not change any time soon seeing that rookies across the league are finding it tough to garner minutes on stacked WNBA rosters.

No. 1: DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix Mercury (5th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
5 24.2 14.4 .453 0-1 7.2 0.6 0.2 0.8
Skinny: Raise your hand if you had Bonner getting off to the best start of all rookies in 2009. Yeah, I didn't think so. Coming out of Auburn, Bonner was regarded as one of the more raw talents in the 2009 WNBA Draft, a player that possessed all the tools to eventually be a threat in the WNBA, but was years away from developing the body that would allow her to go toe-to-toe with bigger and stronger players. Well, two things have worked out for Bonner to make her the most impressive first-year player to this point. Her versatility on offense -- she can play four positions -- has made her an absolute match-up nightmare for opposing coaches. And she got drafted a team -- the run-and-gun Phoenix Mercury -- that suits her talents perfectly.

No. 2: Marissa Coleman, Washington Mystics (2nd pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
3
23.3 12.7 .542 8-12 3.0 0.7 0.7 0.0
Skinny: Before suffering the ankle injury, Coleman had been a big reason why the Mystics are currently the lone undefeated team in the WNBA. She was second on Washington in scoring, behind only Alana Beard, averaging 12.3 points in three games. That's despite coming off the bench in each contest. But the most impressive aspect about Coleman's play so far has been her shooting. She has shot 54 percent from the field and a blistering 8-of-12 from three-point range. Both numbers are atypical for rookies as they adjust from the college game to the pro level, mainly because the defenses are a lot more suffocating. But Coleman has proven to be mature beyond her years and with her out of the lineup it could be tough for Washington to keep up its torrid offensive pace.


No. 3: Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream (1st pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
4 17.8 10.0 .371 0-6 3.3 1.5 1.5 0.5
Skinny: McCoughtry has never been regarded as a shooter, but rather a scorer, and she's done nothing to change that at the pro level. Through four games, McCoughtry has gotten her points (10.0 ppg -- third-best among all rookies), but is shooting a dismal 37 percent from the floor, including 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. The good news is after playing its last three games on the road, Atlanta hosts its next four. The home cooking should help McCoughtry shoot a better percentage. Still, oddly enough, the top pick in April's draft is finding it hard to get playing time on a team that won only four games last season. That's because the Dream added a lot of talent in the off-season, including fellow wing player Chamqiue Holdsclaw, an all-time great who has seemingly regained her All-Star form of years past.


No. 4: Briann January, Indiana Fever (6th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
4 23.5 5.8 .286 2-10 2.8 3.5 1.0 0.2
Skinny: Like most rookies this season, January's play has been inconsistent. Coming out of training camp she earned the starting point guard job over veteran Tully Bevilaqua and came through with a 10-point, five-assist and three-rebound effort in her WNBA debut. However, a pair of sub-par performances followed and Fever coach Lin Dunn made the switch back to Bevilaqua. That hasn't gotten January down as most recently she played 22 minutes off the bench in a win over the Sparks and collected eight points, four assists and three rebounds.


No. 5: Renee Montgomery, Minnesota Lynx (4th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
6 16.3 5.8 .414 6-16 0.5 1.7 0.7 0.2
Skinny: Montgomery hasn't wowed anyone yet in the WNBA with the skills that helped lead UConn to the 2009 NCAA championship, but that's simply because the Lynx really haven't needed her to. At 4-2, Minnesota is off to a strong start in the Western Conference and getting solid contributions out of its sensational starting five. The Lynx likely won't be inclined to shake things up any time soon, but Montgomery is still making a case to move ahead of Kelly Miller on the depth chart. In seven less minutes per game, Montgomery is averaging more points, shooting a better percentage and dishing out a comparable number of assists.

Honorable Mention:
  • Shavonte Zellous, Detroit Shock (7.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 26.3 MPG)
  • Quanitra Hollingsworth, Minnesota Lynx (5.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 11.5 MPG)
  • Courtney Paris, Sacramento Monarchs (4.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 9.2 MPG)
  • Kia Vaughn, New York Liberty (2.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 9.3 MPG)
  • Kristi Toliver, Chicago Sky (3.5 PPG, 2.3 APG, 9.5 MPG)