Elena Delle Donne won an MVP and a scoring title in 2015. What has she done for an an encore in 2016?
Re-discover her three-point touch, apparently.
Although her per game numbers are slightly down from her MVP season (23.4 ppg to 22.1, 8.4 rpg to 7.2), her scoring from July on has been unmatched by anyone else in the league.
Here is her scoring average broken down by month:
September: 28.5 (through two games)
EDD has lifted the play of her entire team and it comes at the perfect time with the Playoffs rapidly approaching. Since the break, Chicago is 5-0 and Delle Donne is averaging 25.8 points. Currently the Sky sit at the fourth seed, which would give them a first-round bye and save them from one single-elimination game under the new playoff format.
Delle Donne has already made a career-high 43 three-pointers this season (on exactly 100 attempts) and she still has six games remaining to boost that total. Her 43% from downtown has helped her improve to a career-high 48.6% from the field this season, up 2.6% from her MVP year. After shooting 43.8% from behind the arc as a rookie, EDD regressed by her standards to 36.4% in her second year (when she played only 16 games) and then a career-low 31.6% during her MVP year. Whatever was wrong with her three-point shot appears to have been fixed, making it even harder for opposing defenses to develop a game plan to contend with her all-around offensive game.
The interesting part about her three-point shooting is that she has been much better on the road (51.9%) than at home (32.6%). Otherwise her home and road splits are almost identical, especially in scoring where she averages 22.0 at home and 22.1 on the road. Why has she shot the three-ball so much better on the road than at home?
One explanation is that an MVP-caliber player like EDD steps up her game when her team needs it the most, like road games against the best teams in the WNBA. She’s posted two games with five three-pointers this season: one in Minnesota on July 5th, when she shot 5-of-6 from deep and finished with a season-high 38 points to go along with 10 rebounds; and one on June 24th in New York, where she went 5-of-7 during a 31-point, 8-rebound performance.
Although the Sky lost both of these games, Delle Donne showed that she has the ability to score 30+ on any given night. The Sky are in the driver’s seat with just six games remaining and a half-game lead on the elusive fourth seed. EDD will look to carry her scorching hot September into the Playoffs.