Summer is here and many people are focused on the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, NFL offseason, and the start of the MLB season. Even with everything going on, there’s another league that has been fighting for equal attention, the WNBA. The league year started this past weekend and yet no one is talking about it! Well, I’m here to highlight some stellar performances from the WNBA’s top rookies and veterans.
Despite losing to the Atlanta Dream, rookie Arike Ogumbowale had a solid WNBA debut. Ogumbowale finished as the only starter for the Dallas Wings to score double figures with 12 points. The #3 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Teaira McCowan, led the Indiana Fever to a season-opening win in dramatic fashion. Indiana secured a victory over the New York Liberty on a buzzer beating layup from McCowan. In 14 minutes off the bench, she recorded 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Jackie Young, the #1 pick in the 2019 draft, couldn’t miss a basket in her debut. She scored 8 points on 4-4 shooting, pairing nicely with reigning rookie of the year A’ja Wilson, who put up 21 points, and Kayla McBride, 20 points, in a win over the Sparks. Looking at every debut, it was undoubtedly Napheesa Collier who headlined this rookie class. Collier was primarily a post player at UCONN, but the Lynx moved her to the wing, making her a strong scoring asset. The rookie scored 27 points on 8-10 shooting, 3-4 from the three-point line, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. Her 27 point performance is second most all-time in a WNBA rookie debut.
The rookies put on a show, but there were some veterans of the league that definitely started the season hot! Jessica Breland’s 17 points and Renee Montgomery’s 15 points helped lead the Atlanta Dream to a win in their season opener. Off the Dallas Wings’ bench, Allisha Gray recorded 14 points and Brooke McCarty-Williams contributed 8 points and dished 8 assists. Tiffany Mitchell of the Indiana Fever started her season with 22 points, 13 of them coming from the free throw line. Tina Charles of the New York Liberty recorded her 149th career double-double with an impressive 21 point, 12 rebound performance. Reshanda Gray only saw the floor for 14 minutes, but was still able to give the Liberty ten points. Natasha Howard came out firing for the reigning WNBA Champions, Seattle Storm, recording 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. On top of Howard’s contribution, Jewell Loyd’s 14 points and Jordin Canada’s 16 points helped lead the Storm to a victory over the Mercury. DeWanna Bonner of the Phoenix Mercury tried to put the team on her back with 31 points, 15 of them coming in a four-minute span (!!!), but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Storm. Brittney Griner fought alongside Bonner in that comeback attempt, adding 18 points and 8 rebounds. Alyssa Thomas recorded 23 points on 11-15 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the Connecticut Sun’s win. Maria Vadeeva started her season with a career high of 24 points, on 11-20 shooting, and Nneka Ogwumike recorded a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
While other veterans started the season on a high note, some didn’t have the season opener that they desired for. In her highly anticipated debut, Chiney Ogwumike only scored one basket for the LA Sparks. Diamond Deshields went 0-7 for the Chicago Sky, Courtney Vandersloot only went 3-10 from the field, but she did help her team with 8 of the Sky’s 19 assists. Kristi Toliver had her season opener cut short against the Sun after suffering a quad contusion. All in all, the WNBA is back and it’s time to pay attention!
Alexis Pitchford is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow her @AlexisPitchford on Twitter.