Who Takes No. 1?
By Scott Stanchak, WNBA.com

June 3, 2010 -- I had a long, heated debate in my head on Wednesday afternoon: Does Minnesota�s Monica Wright deserve the top spot in this week's Rookie Rankings?

The non-verbatim version went something like this:

Right Brain: "No way! How are you going to jump Wright up two spots from last week?"

Left Brain: "Because did you watch her drop 32 points in a nationally televised game on Tuesday night?"

Right Brain: "Yes, I did, and what I saw was a great performance, perhaps the best by a rookie so far this season, but she also only contributed five points two nights earlier.�

Left Brain: �But 32 points!�

Right Brain: �Listen, Tina Charles has done nothing but play consistent. It�s only right that she stays in the top slot.

�Plus, this is your first time filling in writing the Rookie Rankings. Do you really want to get all crazy right away?�

Left Brain: �Point taken.�

The right part of my brain made several strong arguments, including the one about my debut. Wright, the second-overall draft pick by the Minnesota Lynx, had a stellar week, highlighted by Tuesday's performance on ESPN2 against the reigning-champion Phoenix Mercury. Charles, however, continues to dominate defensively, even when she has a slow night offensively. The freshman out of the University of Connecticut also gets major points after taking home May�s WNBA Rookie of the Month on Tuesday.

Outside of Charles and Wright, last week�s other Top 5 candidates, Connecticut�s Kelsey Griffin, Tulsa�s Natasha Lacy and Chicago�s Epiphanny Prince, all improved their points-per-game averages. Since this group features the only first-year players in the entire league receiving more than 20 minutes a night � Los Angeles� Andrea Riley is next with 13.4 minutes of floor time -- they have a strong chance to remain in the Top 5 for the foreseeable future.

No. 1: Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun (1st pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
5 30.8 16.6 .500 0-1 9.6 0.4 1.2 1.8
Skinny: This year�s top-overall draft selection has lived up to her billing thus far. Not only has Charles been a huge obstacle in the paint for opposing teams, but she�s also making it difficult to guard her on the other end of the floor. In two games since last week�s rankings, Charles put up 21 points and grabbed 10 boards against Minnesota and had 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots in Washington. Her performance at home against the Lynx also featured her third double-double in five regular season games. Charles� first game in June takes place Friday against the New York Liberty, and it�s a new race to see whether she can add back-to-back Rookie of the Month honors to her trophy case. With the Liberty surrendering the highest field-goal percentage in the league to their opponents, Charles has a great shot at similar numbers to what she had in their May 11 preseason game: 22 points, 13 rebounds, four blocked shots. Her stats were also aided by the fact that that meeting went to triple overtime.
Previous ranking: 1


No. 2: Monica Wright, Minnesota Lynx (2nd pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
7 26.6 14.4 .356 12-33 3.3 1.0 0.4 0.2
Skinny: WNBA fans outside the North Star State got their first glimpse of Wright�s potential on Tuesday night as the guard from the University of Virginia had a breakout game. Not only were her 32 points impressive, but she compiled much of those baskets by going 6-for-10 from three-point land. What I liked about this performance too was it was a bounce-back game for Wright, who came off the bench for the first time in a Lynx uniform. Just days earlier, at Target Center against the Chicago Sky, she had her worst outing of the season: five points, three rebounds and two turnovers. Wright knew she was struggling, so head coach Cheryl Reeves shifted her to the bench, where she�s admittedly more comfortable. The move paid off for both Wright and the Lynx, who picked up their second win of the season against one of the league�s most dangerous teams.
Previous ranking: 4

No. 3: Kelsey Griffin, Connecticut Sun (3rd pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
5 23.8 9.2 .467 1-6 6.6 1.6 0.8 0.0
Skinny: Griffin has put up consistent numbers all season long, including three straight games in double figures. The first-year forward also started each of those contests, which shows the faith that head coach Mike Thibault has in her. Griffin�s performance against Minnesota on May 27 was perhaps the best all-around game she�s put together over the team�s first five. In that matchup, the 22-year-old dropped 10 points, grabbed eight boards and had three steals in the 105-79 blowout. Based on that showing alone, it�s evident that Griffin has the skills to be a presence on both ends of the floor.
Previous ranking: 2

No. 4: Natasha Lacy, Tulsa Shock (28th pick - 2008)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
5 21.8 9.2 .474 1-3 3.2 4.8 2.6 0.2
Skinny: It was a really tough call not to keep Lacy in the third spot. In her only game since last week�s rankings, the Shock guard put up 15 points, five assists and three steals against last year�s Eastern Conference champions, the Indiana Fever. Those five dishes raised her average to 4.8 a game, which is good enough for fifth in the league. What�s impressive is that she�s doing this all coming off the bench for head coach Nolan Richardson. Her playing time may also increase now that fellow guard Shavonte Zellous has been shipped to the Fever. There�s little doubt, with two games before next week�s rankings are released, Lacy has a shot to move up the board.
Previous ranking: 3


No. 5: Epiphanny Prince, Chicago Sky (4th pick)
GP
MPG
PPG
FG%
3PM-A
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
6 20.5 9.5 .452 3-8 1.0 2.7 1.8 0.5
Skinny: The rookie out of Rutgers University can�t seem to find a consistent rhythm in the stats column. First, she had a season-best performance against Indiana on May 22 with 20 points and four assists, but only scored eight the following night in the rematch. Then, on May 27 she added 13 points on five-of-six from the field in only 15 minutes of action against the Seattle Storm, but could only muster six against Minnesota two days later. Regardless, Prince has still been one of the top rookies in the WNBA this season, especially on defense, where she is among the Top 10 in steals (11, 9th).
Previous ranking: 5

Honorable Mention:
  • Allison Hightower, Connecticut Sun (3.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 13 MPG)
  • Jene Morris, Indiana Fever (4.3 PPG, 1.3 APG, .500 FG%)
  • Kalana Greene, New York Liberty (3.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 12 MPG)
  • Andrea Riley, Los Angeles Sparks (4.8 PPG, 1.8 APG, 1.2 SPG)