Swish Appeal 2012 WNBA All-Rookie Second Team
- Atlanta Dream guard Tiffany Hayes is a good place to start since we ended the discussion of the first team by comparing her to Tulsa Shock guard Riquna Williams. The question with Hayes is not so much whether she was a good rookie, but which of Williams, Phoenix Mercury point guard Samantha Prahalis or Seattle Storm wing Shekinna Stricklen you should bump in favor of her. Obviously, the league's coaches chose Stricklen but I'd argue that Stricklen's size, ability to rebound and shoot the 3-pointer (which improved over the course of the season) make her the better talent. In addition, her improvement over the course of the season was so promising that it seems that she has more potential moving forward. Williams did so much for Tulsa this season that it's hard to leave her off the first team. Same goes for Prahalis with the additional note that she had the added adjustment to the point guard position. You could certainly argue that Hayes had less negatives than any of those other three players, but each of those others have defined strengths that will help them moving forward.
- Minnesota Lynx forward Devereaux Peters is a player who might actually stand out as a player who is better down the road than her basic rookie statistics suggested. Of the rookies on WNBA rosters at the end of the season who played more than 50 minutes (a mouthful, I know), Peters was the best offensive rebounder. Her ability to hit the mid-range shot and get to the free throw line made her the most efficient scorers in this rookie class of anyone who played more than 250 minutes in the season. As one of the best passers of anyone in the class, she demonstrated enormous potential as a player a team could run an offense through in the high post. So with all the positives, why shouldn't she be the biggest snub? While fouls are the most common concern about Peters, it's her turnover rate that might have been the more significant negative in her statistical profile: Peters' 19.2% turnover rate is above average among rookies and the league's posts in general. Any small decrease in turnovers for her moving forward would help make her a more efficient player. Still, it's not that working on the fouls wouldn't help - at her current foul per minute rate, she couldn't play starter's minutes consistently because she'd on the verge of fouling out. It's that statistically, the turnovers are more significant even if she could stay on the floor.
- San Antonio Silver Stars wing Shenise Johnson had moments of brilliance that just don't show up in her statistics - she can create shots for herself, has always had excellent court vision, and is a solid defender. She clearly has the versatile skillset to be for the Silver Stars what James Harden is to the Oklahoma City Thunder. And oddly, the most efficient aspects of her game aren't necessarily the things that most define her style of play: she is an outstanding offensive rebounder for her size and shot 41.2% from 3-point range. Yet though she wasn't disastrously inefficient overall, her 2-point percentage leaves something to be desired although she finished the regular season with three solid games.
- Atlanta Dream post Aneika Henry and former Phoenix Mercury post Avery Warley can be put together because their statistical profiles place them in a similar category in terms of style of play: both players are low usage, low efficiency post players whose biggest strength is their ability to rebound. Warley is just the more extreme case on all fronts, which helps to explain why she was released from the Mercury: she had the lowest usage rate in the 2012 rookie class (9.9%) and the highest offensive rebounding percentage (14.2%) as well as the highest turnover ratio (26.2%) of any rookie who played regular minutes this season. So after the Mercury released her, what are her chances of catching on elsewhere? Being a low usage post player has not necessarily excluded the possibility of having a career as a WNBA contributor: one notable example from the past is Alison Bales who was a low usage, strong (defensive) rebounder and ended up as a rotation player on playoff teams at various points in her career. Ashley Robinson is another example. The way Warley attacks the glass has to make her intriguing to some team, the question is whether those turnovers will prove to be the bigger problem. While Warley has one dominant strength that should attract a suitor by training camp - any team that needs rebounding should probably at least consider her - Henry is probably the more well-rounded player. Either way, these two made helped make this rookie class interesting by adding some depth that the 2012 draft class didn't offer.
Players who simply didn't play often enough to come to a conclusion on due to limited minutes, but had VCRs in the range of All-Rookie candidates.
- Phoenix Mercury post Lynetta Kizer was drafted in the third round by the Tulsa Shock, struggled to find a role there, got cut, got signed by the Mercury, and settled into a slightly larger role off the bench of a team that was plagued by injury. So it's hard to tell exactly what the future holds for her. But she has proven that she can rebound and might have the skill set to be a solid "stretch post player". The problem is that she was 5-for-38 (13.15%) from the 5-15 foot range.
- Indiana Fever center Sasha Goodlett was a player who I saw as a solid prospect entering the draft and she just didn't get the minutes this season. The one knock against her was that her scoring efficiency was only mediocre for a post player. But given how much she improved over her four years at Georgia Tech - both in terms of fitness and skillset - it's easier to imagine her improving over the next few years and earning more minutes.
- Seattle Storm forward Alysha Clark is a great story. As a draft prospect, the big knock on her was that she was too small as an undersized post to succeed in the WNBA and the transition from the college post to the pro perimeter would ultimately prevent her from making it in the league. So she went overseas, worked on her perimeter game, and then made the Storm's roster this year. The best part of the story though is that if you watch how she scored in college and how she scores now with the Storm, there are quite a few similarities - what made her a solid prospect to begin with wasn't her scoring average but how she scored. Though still undersized, she proved that she could score in the paint effectively this season, shooting 61.5% in the 1-5 foot range. Though she doesn't quite have the size of a Shekinna Stricklen, she is arguably a better rebounder playing a Brian Agler hybrid wing position. Overall, although she had a relatively limited role in the offense and is a turnover prone player right now, it's hard to look at her journey to this point and not think that she can continue developing into a contributor in the right situation.
- Washington Mystics guard Natalie Novosel figured to have one major strength as she entered the league: 3-point shooting. As a 45.5% 3-point shooter in her senior year at Notre Dame, she figured to make her biggest contribution from beyond the arc in the pros. So here's what's actually quite promising about her generally unremarkable rookie year: Novosel had a VCR of .90 while only shooting 22% from the 3-point line. In other words, there's a good chance that we haven't seen the best of Natalie Novosel in her rookie season. Obviously her statistics have to be taken lightly as a player who played just under 10 minutes per game this season, but with her solid rebounding ability for a guard and reasonable ball handling and passing skills as a wing there is hope that she could improve.