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McBride, Jefferson Provide Hope In San Antonio

Expectations for the Stars were unclear coming into this season. With an already young roster and then losing three-time All-Star Danielle Robinson, hiring new GM, Ruth Riley, and with Dan Hughes announcing it would be his last year as a head coach in San Antonio, there were shakeups all-around.

Now sitting at 3-12 on the season, this year’s results have been a mixed bag.Take a step back from the record, however, and there is reason for optimism around this young team; their young backcourt of Moriah Jefferson and Kayla McBride.

Coming off her first All-Star appearance in her second season in the WNBA, McBride has seen her scoring average jump by four points from 13.8 to 17.8 this year. This spike in scoring is more impressive when you consider the fact that she has yet to fully hit her stride from behind the arc — currently she is making 32.8% of her three-pointers while she is a 37.1% career shooter from long distance.

McBride has also shouldered the load with Robinson out after Achilles surgery, currently ranking 3rd in the league in usage rate at almost 30% (behind only Tina Charles and Angel McCoughtry) which means that almost one-third of San Antonio’s plays are ending in either a shot attempt, assist or turnover by McBride. This has increased from 25.6% last year and illustrates that McBride has been able to handle her expanded role with the team. Since she has the ball in her hands more it should help speed up her development as a player and she has proved that she can hit shots like this one to seal the game against the Storm:

mcbride_storm_3

Another reason for optimism has been the play of the 2nd overall pick from UConn, Jefferson. The rookie point guard has shown off her play-making (1st amongst rookies with 4.3 apg) and scoring ability (3rd amongst rookies at 9.5 ppg). Her quickness jumps out of the screen whenever you watch a Stars game, evidenced here by her ability to take it coast-to-coast for the impressive Eurostep finish:

moriah_layup

She shows off the same speed in a similar take to the hole here, but also displays her vision and passing ability with the sweet dish:
moriah_assist

While McBride and Jefferson offer hope as the future backcourt for the Stars, there are other pieces as well. Dearica Hamby, the 5th overall pick in the 2015 draft, has improved significantly in her sophomore season, getting 10 more minutes per game and improving her FG% from 35.4 to 44.5 and scoring average from 6.1 to 10.4.

6-foot-4 center Kayla Alexander has also taken a step forward in her 4th year as a pro, improving her scoring average from 3.3 to 8.1, all while playing much more efficiently at 58.1% from the field after shooting just 41.6% last year.

With this young, talented roster, a new coach next year, the return of Danielle Robinson and another offseason for GM Ruth Riley to continue building the team it is easy to see how the future could be brighter for the Stars.