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    Rhyne Howard for WNBA Rookie of the Year? Shakira Austin’s impact says not so fast

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    most wnba fans have considered that the atlanta dream’s rhyne howard, the 2022 no. 1 draft pick, heavy favorite to win wnba rookie of the year award. But the race shouldn’t be as lopsided as it might seem due to the stellar, albeit subdued by comparison, performance of Shakira Austin of the Washington Mystics.

    howard is understandably the favourite. the 6-foot-2 shooting guard leads an outstanding group of rookies in scoring (15.1 points per game), assists (2.7) and steals (1.5), and is second in minutes (30.6 per game). ) for an atlanta team about to make the playoffs. For the first time since 2018. Although her numbers fell to the ground as the summer progressed, Howard became the seventh WNBA rookie to score at least 100 points in her first five games (averaging 20.4 ppg in that span), and he was the only freshman to be named a 2022 all-star.

    Reading: Wnba rookie of the year

    we also saw the impact on the dream when howard was removed from the equation: atlanta went 1-1 when he missed two games with a shoulder injury and suffered its worst loss of the season, 25 to connecticut sun. .

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      Rhyne Howard for WNBA Rookie of the Year? Shakira Austin's impact says not so fast

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      Rhyne Howard for WNBA Rookie of the Year? Shakira Austin's impact says not so fast

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      Box scoring stats for Austin, a 6-3 forward/center who was No. The No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft isn’t particularly flashy: He’s averaging 8.0 points (fifth-best on the Mystiques) and 6.1 rebounds per game (second-best). She’s not a focal point offensively for Washington, but coach Mike Thibault says he appreciates that even though he doesn’t run plays for her, Austin still finds ways to score by putting up good screens and breaking glass. Her completion has been impressive for a rookie: Her 53.8 field goal percentage ranks ninth in the league for players averaging at least five shots per game and appearing in at least 10 contests. she also converted 67.8% of her attempts inside 5 feet of the hoop.

      But it’s his defensive prowess that sets Austin apart, who has started all but four games this season, and each since May 20. [Washington’s] defense,” which boasts the second-best defensive rating in the league behind Seattle. Thibault went so far as to say he thinks she’ll be “a mainstay on the [all-league] defensive team at some point.” of his career.”

      It’s the little things not on the scorecard that Austin does so well to help the Mystics remain the defensive force they’ve become, particularly when two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne was in and out of the lineup due to load management much of this season.

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      “One of the best defensive attributes of a post player is being able to direct traffic and cover pick and rolls and things in the lane,” thibault said. “When we saw her in college, she was a very good communicator with her teammates on defense, yelling loud screens, covers, blocking, knowing when to help and when to come back. She just has defensive instincts.

      “it’s pretty hard, I think sometimes at any level, to get your whole team talking and communicating the right way. but if you have a rookie who can come in and do some of those things on day one, it’s really useful.”

      would the mystics be where they are, fifth in the wnba standings, virtually guaranteed a playoff spot, even though delle donne missed nine games, without austin?

      “We wouldn’t be,” Atkins said.

      “she’s a big part of what we do. i don’t think we necessarily recruited someone to come in and have to do the things that she’s doing. but she stepped up and showed us that she was capable of doing it .so that’s something we expect from her every night…and I’m excited to see what the rest of the season is going to give us.”

      howard and austin are neck and neck in winning percentage based on their rim stats (2.5 and 2.4, respectively), but austin’s winning percentage per 40 (0.17) is marginally better than the from Howard (0.14) (As part of a crowded group with veteran post players, Austin only plays 21 minutes a game). Austin’s defensive winning percentage per 40 is third-best in the league behind Breanna Stewart and Ezi Magbegor, who are both Defensive Player of the Year candidates.

      Before the all-star game, I wrote in our midseason picks that while he acknowledges austin’s brilliance, howard is probably rookie of the year, and that’s still true at this point. She’s more critical of what Atlanta has done on both ends of the floor, and if you ask ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, her wins over replacement player metrics really like Howard over Austin.

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      but at the end of the day, whoever wins 2022 rookie of the year might not mean that much in the grand scheme of things, which is this: both howard and austin have the potential to be long-lasting superstars, possibly even mvps, in the wnba.

      games of the week

      atlanta dream at los angeles sparks (3:30 pm and Thursday, nba tv): a game with important playoff implications. The teams are sixth and seventh, respectively, in the WNBA standings before Thursday’s games, meaning if the regular season ended today, both would be headed for the postseason. Atlanta’s playoff chances look increasingly solid after recent wins over Phoenix Mercury and the Vegas Aces, but the wings of Dallas and Phoenix Mercury are breathing down the necks of both squads. The Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty are also kept within striking distance, making this a must-win game for every team, though even more so for the Los Angeles. Atlanta is 1-0 in the series this season, with a final matchup in August remaining. /p>

      seattle storm at phoenix mercury (10pm and friday, nba tv): the regular season finale matchup between wnba legends sue bird and diana taurasi, their 46th regular season meeting of All-Time, which is tied for the most between any two WNBA players (along with Tamika Catches vs. Swin Cash and Lindsay Ballen vs. Candice Dupree). Bird leads the series 25-20, while also owning one more title than Taurasi (4-3), and will retain bragging rights regardless of how Friday’s matchup plays out.

      Las Vegas Aces at Chicago Sky (8:30pm and Tuesday, Amazon Prime Video): Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game. Winning the Commissioner’s Cup may not mean much to the players aside from a much-appreciated financial bonus, but both teams still have a lot to prove in the second iteration of this season championship. After their strong start to the season, the Aces looked poised to host this game before their run of slump in June/early July, while Chicago’s hot run saw them take home the field. could this high-stakes matchup between the top two teams in the standings predict which team is the favorite to take home the wnba title in september, or could the second year of the competition be like last season, where there was no cup finalist (seattle or connecticut)? finally made it to the wnba finals?

      statistic of the week

      The Dream’s 92-76 victory over the Aces on Tuesday marked the biggest upset of the WNBA season, as Atlanta closed out as a 13-point underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook. The dream’s 16-point win was also the biggest by a double-digit loser in the last five WNBA seasons.

      fantastic women’s basketball predictions

      who to start with: phoenix’s shey peddy has been very hot recently, averaging 27.0 fantasy points over the past three games as the mercurys continue to battle for a playoff spot despite the absence of brittney griner. and tina charles mid-season exit.

      chiney ogwumike has averaged 30.0 fantasy points over the last three games and won starts when liz cambage was out with covid-19. She could still be a worthwhile player to start with, even as Cambage works her way back into proper conditioning for Sparks.

      who to sit on: new york’s marine johannes has struggled, averaging 13.7 fantasy points per game over the last three games, while sandy brondello’s team is He is moving further and further away from playoff contention with four straight losses. Moriah Jefferson has also seen a drop in productivity, averaging just 10.0 fantasy points in her last three games as the Bobcat tries to make a late playoff push.

      See also: Week 1 Waiver Wire Pickups: Jameis Winston, Darrell Henderson, Isaiah McKenzie, And Nico Collins Present Intriguing Options

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