Rookie Rankings: July 9, 2009
Why do I bring this up? Because we might have to start getting used the idea of Rookie of the Year as sixth woman.
We got a hint of it last year when Candice Wiggins, playing in her first season for the Minnesota Lynx, was named Sixth Woman of the Year after averaging 15.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals in 30 games -- one start. Wiggins may have had the ROY honor locked up in any other year, but was the victim of unfortunate timing as she entered the league the same year as Candace Parker.
At this juncture in the 2009 season no candidate for the Rookie of the Year award is a regular starter, unless you count Connecticut's Chante Black, although it appears even she just lost her starting job with the return of Sandrine Gruda. There are a few reasons for this trend, the most obvious is that with 13 teams, 11 roster spots per team and women's basketball reaching new heights in terms of talent, playing time is at a premium. But another crucial factor is that with many teams in the hunt for the eight postseason berths, coaches may be more inclined to go with experienced veterans in the starting five rather than rookies that go through frustrating growing pains.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean rookies aren't getting minutes, or that they haven't been effective. DeWanna Bonner has come off the bench in all 13 of Phoenix's games and is third on the team in scoring (11.4 ppg) and tied for first in rebounding (6.2). Detroit's Shavonte Zellous, who is also third on her team in scoring (12.7 ppg), has found her niche as a reserve after starting the team's first four games. And Angel McCoughtry, Renee Montgomery and the recently returned Marissa Coleman have all played valuable roles off the bench for teams having early season success.
If these reserve rookies keep it up they could collect more than one piece of hardware at season's end.