WNBA ROOKIE REPORT: Previewing Saturday’s WNBA Rookie Debuts of Sabrina Ionescu, Joyner Holmes, Julie Allemand and more.

New York Liberty Rookies

The WNBA season tips off tomorrow and the New York Liberty’s top pick, the first overall pick, Sabrina Ionescu finally makes her long awaited WNBA pro debut. This season, there are 27 rookies, which is by far the most rookies in a WNBA season in recent years. Because of the sheer volume of rookies playing this year, we are going to file rookie reports on all 26 rookies. The rookie reports will come out every two weeks and will highlight which rookies played well, who had standout weeks, who did not play, etc.

In creating these rookie reports, we previewed the rookies who will be playing in Saturday’s Slate. Sunday’s slate of Rookie Debuts will be up by tomorrow. The Rookie Reports are written by Teylor Hines(@HipsterHoopz) Blake O’Tain(@wnbadaily) and myself. (Aneela Khan)

We will start with the first game of the season, the Seattle Storm vs the New York Liberty. There are 8 rookies featured in the game and New York has 7, the most of any team this year in the WNBA.

SEATTLE STORM

EZI MAGBEGOR (2019 WNBA DRAFT, 12th overall pick)

Ezi Magbegor is the only Seattle Storm rookie in this year’s team. However, she’s not a rookie by any means as she plays professionally in the WNBL for the Melbourne Boomers. She was drafted last year as 12th overall pick. She has basketball experience and is just 20 years old, which is younger than most if not all the 2020 WNBA draftees this year. She averaged 8.7 pts per game and 4.3 rebounds per game while playing in the WNBL. She is one of the intriguing rookies and will look to develop more behind Mercedes Russell and Natasha Howard. – Aneela Khan

NEW YORK LIBERTY

SABRINA IONESCU (1st overall pick)

Sabrina Ionescu is entering her WNBA pro debut with a lot of attention and publicity riding on her shoulders. As the top overall pick, she will be closely watched to see how she leads this very young New York Liberty team against stronger, veteran teams in the league. She will have to learn quickly and adjust to the pro game if New York wants to have any success this season. – Aneela Khan

MEGAN WALKER (9th overall pick)

Megan was one of the few Juniors that decided to declare for the WNBA Draft. Walker was an excellent shooter in college, and will bring some much needed shooting to the Liberty.  – Blake O’Tain

JOCELYN WILLOUGHBY (10th overall pick)

Willoughby is another talented shooter selected by the Liberty, in the draft. Willoughby started every game of her collegiate career. She is a great scorer, rebounder, and defender. It will be exciting to see how quickly she can translate those skills, into the much tougher WNBA. – Blake O’Tain

JAZMINE JONES (12th overall pick)

Jones is another strong shooter to add to this youth filled lineup. In college Jones did not shoot a lot of threes, but that is something she can develop as she translates her game to the pros. For her height Jones is a very talented rebounder. – Blake O’Tain

KYLEE SHOOK (13th overall pick)

Shook is a post drafted high in the second round with the opportunity in New York to get decent minutes. The Liberty’s young roster will allow the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year to show her ability to track down shots and knock the three. With a steady point guard at the helm, she could thrive early on pick and pop situations. – Teylor Hines

LEAONNA ODOM (15th overall pick)

Odom is a forward from Duke who was drafted in the second round. In New York, she will get the opportunity to prove herself, although it may be in a bench role. She can play multiple positions which should help her get some playing time. She may not be asked to do much in her rookie season, but she could really help elevate the Liberty’s bench. – Aneela Khan

JOYNER HOLMES (19th overall pick)

Holmes is a late addition to the Liberty team. She was selected by the Seattle Storm in the second round of the WNBA Draft, she was later released. Joyner brings a strong defensive presence to this young Liberty team. Her other strengths include inside scoring, and rebounding. – Blake O’Tain


Next up, is the Los Angeles Sparks vs the Phoenix Mercury. With such veteran led teams, only one rookie is featured in it.

LOS ANGELES SPARKS

T’EA COOPER (18th overall pick)

Cooper is a classic combo guard that was drafted and waived by The Phoenix Mercury due to roster cuts. This led to her signing with the Sparks where she’ll be looked at to shoot, shoot, and shoot again with Toliver out. Cooper’s pressure on the defensive side of the ball may also allow her to get more minutes in a scattered Derek Fisher rotation. Her path to making a roster was unorthodox, but her play could cement her place in the league for years to come. – Teylor Hines


Finally, we have the last matchup of the day, the Indiana Fever vs the defending WNBA champions, the Washington Mystics. There are 4 rookies featured in this matchup.

INDIANA FEVER

JULIE ALLEMAND (2016 WNBA Draft, 33rd overall pick)

Julie is a skilled passer, with excellent vision, and a good 3 point shooter. This will be Allemand’s first WNBA game, however she has already played with and against some highly skilled WNBA players. With Erica Wheeler out due to COVID-19 Allemand should see a good amount of playing time in the season opener on Saturday. Allemand will face her Belgium national team mate Emma Messamen, in the first game of Allemand’s WNBA career. – Blake O’Tain

LAUREN COX (3rd overall pick)**

Not available to play right away due to COVID 19 protocols and probably will not play in the season opener, Cox is an outstanding all-around player. She stands 6’4 but is a tremendous defender, a great shooter, and is an exceptional passer for her size. The Fever finished near the bottom as a team defensively last season. Cox will definitely help improve their defensive rating, for years to come. – Blake O’Tain

KATHLEEN DOYLE (14th overall pick)

Doyle is the definition of a floor general. She is a do-it-all kind of point guard, she is a great passer, but also is a very strong shooter. With Erica Wheeler not in the lineup due to COVID-19, look for Doyle to get lots of minutes in her first WNBA game. – Blake O’Tain

WASHINGTON MYSTICS

KIARA LESLIE (2019 WNBA Draft, 10th overall pick

Kiara Leslie’s start to her WNBA career was put to a halt due to injury after being drafted 10th by the Mystics in 2019. This year with the reigning champ’s roster looking a little different and coaches expecting to use their benches more, she’ll get the chance to show us what was missed. Leslie is a wing player that can score at all three levels, so she could be viable scoring option for Washington’s second unit. – Teylor Hains

WNBA Players Scoring/Rebounds/Assists Milestones for the 2020 Season

diana taurasi and brittney griner

Another WNBA season is just days away now and with that said, it’s time to look at which WNBA players will hit scoring/rebounding/assists milestones this season. I have done this for many years now as I find it fascinating. My inspiration to start tracking these sites came from Kevin Brown, an avid WNBA fan’s website. He was the original in tracking these milestones. Then, Across the Timeline popped up. Kurtis, the owner also does a phenomenal job at tracking these milestones as well. He also focuses on other milestones too.

I, on the other hand, just track the big three milestones. Scoring, Rebounding and Assists. This season is a bit different. Instead of 34 games, the WNBA season is shortened to 22 games this year. This allows less time for players to hit their milestones, so there will be less players that will hit the milestones this season. Another note is that certain WNBA players have either elected to opt out or are medically exempt from playing this season, so their names will not be mentioned. You can view which WNBA players are playing at my ACTIVE WNBA PLAYER Database here.

In getting this information, I also looked at how viable the WNBA player’s chances were at reaching the milestone by looking at their past stats and weighed out their averages and chances that they could hit the milestone. For some players, I put them on the watch list which is below the milestones, so that if they are very close or close enough to reach the milestone, I will add them there. I plan on continuously updating this post, so be sure to check back every month or so to see the progress and see what WNBA players hit their milestones.

WNBA MILESTONES 2020

SCORING

9000

Diana Taurasi needs 69 points to reach 9000 points this season.

1000

Amanda Zahui B needs 47 points to reach 1000 points this season.

PLAYERS WHO HAVE REACHED THEIR MILESTONES

Aerial Powers – 1000 points (7/30)

Elizabeth Williams – 1000 rebounds (7/31)

Riquna Williams – 2000 rebounds (8/1)

Kelsey Mitchell – 1000 points (8/7)

Chelsea Gray – 1000 points (8/7)

Cheyenne Parker – 1000 points (8/10)

Emma Meeseman – 1000 rebounds (8/11)
Kahleah Copper – 1000 points (8/12)
Candice Dupree – 3000 rebounds (8/13)
Dewanna Bonner – 5000 points (8/14)
Jasmine Thomas – 3000 points (8/14)

Kia Vaughn – 2000 points (8/24)

Stefanie Dolson – 2000 points (8/25)

Breanna Stewart – 1000 rebounds (8/25)

Allie Quigley – 3000 points (9/2)

Natasha Howard – 1000 rebounds (9/2)

Arike Ogunbowale – 1000 points (9/4)

Skylar Diggins-Smith – 3000 points (9/5)

Nneka Ogwumike – 2000 rebounds (9/6)

Kia Nurse – 1000 points (9/10)

Seimone Augustus – 6000 points (9/10)

Kayla Thornton – 1000 points (9/11)

Natasha Howard – 2000 points (9/11)

WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Bracket Challenge Winner is….. + Final Remarks from the Selection Committee.

wnba coaches, tournament bracket challenge
Congratulations are in order for the Greatest WNBA Coach of All Time Bracket Challenge Winner Cheryl Reeve! She won over respected head coach Mike Thibault who was the runner up! View the updated and final bracket here.

Cheryl Reeve was placed in the first region, region W. She beat out #4 seed Corey Gaines in the Sweet 16, #3 seed Sandy Brondello in the Elite 8 and #1 seed Van Chancellor (from Region N) in the Final Four. She beat out some great coaches and that is why she is the winner of the WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Bracket Challenge.

Listed below are the final thoughts of the committee members who helped shape the process of making the bracket, selecting the coaches and shaping the overall bracket.

Committee Member: Kevin Brown | Twitter: @over_short

Final Thoughts: Like the players bracket, there were few surprises.  Lin Dunn upsetting Bill Laimbeer was the biggest upset.  Mostly what I learned from this exercise is how difficult it is to compare coaches.

Thoughts on Cheryl Reeve winning the WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Challenge: This is the result supported by the numbers.  Winning percentage, playoff success, rings, you name it, if it’s measurable then it points to Cheryl Reeve.  

Committee Member: Aneela Khan | Twitter: @whoopsblogger

Final Thoughts: My final thoughts on the WNBA Coach Challenge that it was interesting and unique. With only 16 entries, it flew by quickly! I think it was also interesting that Coach Linn Dunn managed to knock off the only #1 seed Bill Laimbeer to advance to the Final Four.

Thoughts on Cheryl Reeve winning the WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Challenge:
Not a surprise. Her four titles speaks volumes as well as her popularity of the Minnesota Lynx fan base and organization. Although, I would like to still tip my hat to one of the best coaches ever, Mike Thibault. He is also a legendary coach.

Committee Member: Albert Lee | Twitter: @aleeinthedmv

Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought the bracket went as expected in the end with Cheryl Reeve going head to head against Mike Thibault or Bill Laimbeer in the final of this bracket pool. I was a bit surprised that Sandy Brondello defeated Brian Agler in the first round, which was an upset in my opinion.

Thoughts on Cheryl Reeve winning the WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Challenge: Reeve is one of two WNBA head coaches to win four titles, along with Van Chancellor who she defeated in the semifinals. I have no problem with her winning the bracket, because her Lynx teams of the 2010s have played to their potential with a dynastic core that featured Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson.

Committee Member: Glenn Starkey | Twitter: @Starkman55

Final Thoughts: It went pretty much as I expected and I already knew of some upsets that were going to happen. Linn Dunn was an amazing coach who was responsible for Tamika Catchings prime and had a significant impact during her time with the Fever that goes beyond her one title win. Linn Dunn almost beat out Mike Thibault for a Finals berth. Just like her Fever teams, Linn Dunn was always a contender most overlooked until it was too late.

Thoughts on Cheryl Reeve winning the WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Challenge: This makes sense. 4 titles, and took over a team that before had little known else but losing. Reeve has showed above and beyond, she is a true winner and also turned a sparsely attended Lynx team into an attendance leader year in and year out, even as her dynasty fades in the last few years.

Committee Member: Tee | Twitter: @HipsterHoopz

Final Thoughts: Despite unprecedented times, this challenge has been great to observe and a blast to work on. From a few upsets to some unexpectedly close match ups, it had everything you like in a challenge of this kind. It creates great dialogue in women’s basketball about what is valued more and that is all you can hope for. More discussions lead to more quality content.

Thoughts on Cheryl Reeve winning the WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Challenge: Coach Reeve winning this challenge doesn’t shock me at all. She was the number one overall seed in this challenge for a reason. It’s hard to argue with her resume because she wins on the biggest of stages. Reeve has the most playoff wins and the highest playoff winning percentage in league history. The Lynx’s four championships and six conference titles from 2011-2017 puts the dynasty in a league of their own.

Committee Member: Rebecca Wininger | Twitter: @zombiebecca

Thoughts on Cheryl Reeve winning the WNBA G.O.A.T Coach Challenge: Cheryl Reeve has a coaching history that is currently unparalleled in the WNBA. She’s not just a women’s basketball coach. She can coach with the best on any global court.

ACTIVE WNBA PLAYER DATABASE – Who is Playing and who is not?

Washington Mystics, 2019 WNBA Champs.

This year, the WNBA season will be much different. All 12 teams will be housed in one location and all of the WNBA players and involved personnel will have to stay within one area. With all of that in mind, I decided to create an active WNBA Player Database to track every single signed player. I will update it every time we hear of a WNBA player that will not play until the day the WNBA officially tips off.

There are some notes within this document. For example, active players are marked in green and listed below, in the notes section, are listed players who chose not to play or are injured. They are marked in red. Every single time a WNBA player chooses not to play, I will move them down into the notes section and mark them with red.

Share and spread this document around to help those who want to write team previews (like myself!) or fans who want to know who will play this season. Bookmark this page and you will be able to view it at anytime. Remember, this document is ever changing. It may look different from week to week.

ACTIVE WNBA PLAYER DATABASE

The WNBA is BACK! An Honest Opinion Piece of what it means.

2019 WNBA Logo.

It was just announced earlier today that the WNBA season will start after discussions with the league’s players, coaches and officials after COVID-19 had shut down the WNBA season start which was scheduled to start on May 15th. You can read the press release here and read the full details here.

As a WNBA blogger, I am thrilled to see that the season is back. It makes me look forward to seeing live sports again, as we have been without them for three months now. But, as a human being, I am very concerned about this upcoming season. I think that it is absolutely wonderful that the players are getting paid their full salary. I also think it’s great that for players who have a higher chance of contracting coronavirus, can opt out of the season and sill be paid their full salary. I take Elena Delle Donne as an example of this. She could very well opt out of the season for this very reason. I also think many international players will not bother to show up this year because I don’t think they think it is worth the hassle.

On top of all of that, the Black Lives Matter movement has been gaining momentum and the fight towards social justice and equality is very prevalent in the States right now and since the league is made up of a large majority of black women, this is very close to their hearts. Some players may not play for this reason so that they can protest and fight for change, which is their right. Unfortunately, if they do that, they will not be paid their full salary. I should say, the Black Lives Matter matters worldwide as there have been many international protests as well.

This is a tough, tough call. I can understand why the WNBA wants to play, I can understand why some players want to play and why some would opt out. I understand players contracts service years need to be played and that the WNBA would like to generate some type of revenue. I do think the WNBA has always been towards the fore front of social issues and this season they will have a major spotlight, which will be even more brighter this season. But, I don’t know if 2020 is THAT season to shine. I have mixed feelings about all of it and in the end, the human side (not the sports fan/blogger) is telling me, this is not the time for sports. Not now. Not when there is still a global pandemic, with fears of a second wave and social unrest. It just does not feel right.