Rookie Rankings: August 6, 2009

August 6, 2009 -- When is a rookie not really a rookie? When she's Anete Jekabsone-Zogota of the Connecticut Sun.

A 25-year-old native of Latvia, Jekabsone-Zogota is a well-known commodity in the global basketball scene, having played internationally since 1998 while developing into a star in the Euroleague. However, the 2009 WNBA season marks her first with the league.

Jekabsone-Zogota signed with the Sun in February, but didn't join the team until early July because of Euroleague obligations. Her impact on the WNBA wasn't immediate, as is to be expected for any player making the transition, but in recent weeks the guard has been starting to catch on. Over the past five games she has averaged 10.8 points -- reaching double digits in scoring three times in that span -- while shooting 48 percent from the field. She has also averaged 3.8 assists over the last five contests for a Connecticut team in the thick of the East playoff chase.

Suddenly, Jekabsone-Zogota has to be thought of as a contender for the Rookie of Year award.

Of course, this is not the first time a more experienced "rookie" threatened to shake-up the rookie race and thus WNBA.com's Rookie Rankings. Such are the side effects of a game that has global reach. In 2007, Marta Fernandez of Spain, another overseas veteran, was in the hunt for the ROY award while a member of the Los Angeles Sparks before fading in the second half of the season.

But all signs point to a talented player like Jekabsone-Zogota improving her numbers as she gets more and more comfortable playing with her new teammates and against the competition in the WNBA, which will create an interesting and increasingly common dilemma.

Should a player lose points in a rookie race if she comes in with prior pro experience? There probably isn't a definitive answer.

No. 1: DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix Mercury (5th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
22 21.5 11.3 .426 1-8 6.0 0.3 0.5 0.7
Skinny: Rather than take time to go over the somewhat mediocre week Bonner just had we should make mention that she was robbed of the Rookie of the Month honors for July. No disrespect to Angel McCoughtry, who also turned in a strong month, but Bonner simply had the better July. Bonner posted a pair of double-doubles, scored in double figures seven times and led all rookies in scoring (11.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg) for the month. Oh, and the Mercury also had a phenomenal month, taking over the top spot in the West.
Previous ranking: 1

No. 2: Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream (1st pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
20 17.1 10.1 .459 6-24 2.3 1.7 1.8 0.3
Skinny: As mentioned above, McCoughtry was honored with the Rookie of the Month award for July. The most intriguing development that came out of July for McCoughtry was the fact that she established herself as a defensive force, something many expected to happen when she entered the league. In her most recent outing against the New York Liberty, McCoughtry collected a season-high seven steals. That came two games after her previous season-high of six steals against Detroit. At this rate she should come up with 30 swipes in her regular season finale. We should also note that McCoughtry has scored at least 16 points in each of her last three games. Yeah, she's the real deal.
Previous ranking: 2


No. 3: Shavonte Zellous, Detroit Shock (11th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
17 22.2 10.9 .360 4-14 3.1 0.9 0.9 0.3
Skinny: Hopefully that sound you just heard was the house settling and not Zellous hitting the dreaded rookie wall. Still, this past week was a rough one for Zellous. On Sunday, the Pittsburgh product scored just six points on 2-of-8 shooting in the team's loss to Connecticut. She followed that up by playing just 10 minutes and posting only two points in Detroit's victory over New York Tuesday. With Zellous struggling, Detroit isn't getting much in terms of point production off its bench, which is exactly what coach Rick Mahorn uses her for, and if that continues it could severely hamper the Shock's quest to get into the top four spots in the East.
Previous ranking: 3


No. 4: Courtney Paris, Sacramento Monarchs (7th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
20 13.3 4.9 .518 0-0 4.2 0.7 0.3 0.2
Skinny: Paris came through with a decent game in the team's OT win over San Antonio last Thursday, totaling seven points and six rebounds. However, she underwhlemed a bit in her last jaunt out on the court, posting two points and five rebounds in a Monarchs' loss to the Sparks Saturday. The good news for players like Zellous and Paris though is that they are able to hold on to their spots in the rankings this week thanks in large part to the continued disappointments from some high draft picks, namely Marissa Coleman, Kristi Toliver and Renee Montgomery.
Previous ranking: 4


No. 5: Anete Jekabsone-Zogota, Connecticut Sun (Not drafted)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
12 18.8 6.3 .405 11-26 2.0 2.0 0.3 0.0
Skinny: Yup, Jekabsone-Zogota gets to nod at No. 5, slightly edging out Montgomery and San Antonio's Megan Frazee, to make her first foray into the Rookie Rankings. The odd thing about the emergence of Jekabsone-Zogota is that it has coincided with Connecticut's recent slide. In the past five games, the Sun have gone just 2-3, including losing three of their last four, causing the team to fall into a tie for second place in the East with Washington. Of course, adding a player to the rotation during the middle of the season is never easy, and the Sun are doing it with a couple of players in Jekabsone-Zogota and Sandrine Gruda.
Previous ranking: NR

Honorable Mention:
  • Megan Frazee, San Antonio Silver Stars (5.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 12.2 MPG)
  • Renee Montgomery, Minnesota Lynx (7.8 PPG, 1.8 APG, 20.0 MPG)
  • Briann January, Indiana Fever (5.5 PPG, 2.3 APG, 18.5 MPG)
  • Marissa Coleman, Washington Mystics (6.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 19.2 MPG)
  • Chante Black, Connecticut Sun (3.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 14.3 MPG)