Rookie Report: First-Round Picks at the Olympic Break
With the Olympic Break upon us, here’s a look at how the 2016 first-round WNBA Draft picks have fared so far this season.
By: Jack Maloney, WNBA.com
All season, Breanna Stewart has shown why she was the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. The four-time NCAA champion at UConn has taken the WNBA by storm, averaging 19.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game, good enough for fifth, second, third, and second in the league, respectively.
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The San Antonio Stars have had a rough year, but Moriah Jefferson hasn't. The second pick a few months ago, Jefferson is second in scoring amongst rookies, averaging 12.2 points per game, while leading all rookies in assists (4 per game) and steals (1.4 per game).
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With Chiney Ogwumike, Alyssa Thomas, Camille Little, and Shekinna Stricklen already in place in Connecticut's frontcourt, Morgan Tuck hasn't gotten quite the playing time that her former UConn teammates, Stewart and Jefferson, have gotten. Still, she's been solid, averaging 7.2 points and 2.9 rebounds over 17.2 minutes a night.
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Unfortunately, Rachel Banham's first WNBA season ended early, as she tore her ACL just 15 games into the campaign. She played sparingly for the Sun before the injury, with her 13-point debut highlighting her first season.
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Aerial Powers left Michigan State early, and she's proved that to be a wise decision. The Wings' swingwoman has been mighty impressive in her first 25 games, averaging 9.8 points a night and shooting 36.5 percent from behind the arc, second amongst rookies averaging more than 1 three-point attempt a night.
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Like Morgan Tuck, Jonquel Jones has struggled to find playing time in the loaded Sun frontcourt. When she gets some run, she's shown to be effective, however, putting up 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals in 28 minutes during the Sun's win over Chicago in their last game before the break.
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Kahleah Copper was known for her athleticism coming into the Draft, and she has shown it off on both ends of the floor for the Mystics. She is able to guard multiple positions, and crashes the boards well despite being just 6-foot-1. Her 3.3 rebounds a game are third amongst rookies.
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Starting the year behind Diana Taurasi, Courtney Williams didn't see much of the court, averaging just 4.2 minutes a night. Since her trade to Connecticut, however, she's been averaging 13.1 minutes. The increased playing time has allowed her to show her skills, especially in the Sun's big win over the Lynx, in which she scored 15 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.
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Tiffany Mitchell went No. 9 overall to the Indiana Fever, and has commenced showing other teams why passing on her was a huge mistake. At 10.5 points per game, she's one of only three rookies averaging double figures. She's also third amongst rookies in assists and steals, putting up 1.6 and 1 per game, respectively.
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Imani Boyette has had her ups and downs like any rookie, but the ups have been quite spectacular. At 6-foot-7 she is a constant presence in the paint, as she's shown with three different four-block games. She's also had some big double-doubles, including a 16-point, 12-rebound performance against Indiana.
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Behind the likes of Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes, Bria Holmes has stiff competition for minutes in the Atlanta backcourt. She's played at least 21 mintues in each of the Dream's last five games, however, where she's averaging 9.8 points and 3.4 rebounds a game.
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Adut Bulgak has plenty of potential in her 6-foot-4 frame, but she hasn't gotten to showcase it much this year, as it's been tough for her to find minutes in a Liberty frontcourt that includes Tina Charles, Kiah Stokes, Carolyn Swords, and Swin Cash.