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What are the Big Three Rookies doing during their first offseason as pros?

The Big Three Rookies of the 2013 Draft Class: Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne, and Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins are now in the middle of a long WNBA offseason, and they're now no longer rookies! Let's take a look and see what they're up to during the winter.

Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins speaks before a Notre Dame game vs. Valparaiso where she was inducted to the University's Ring of Honor.
Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins speaks before a Notre Dame game vs. Valparaiso where she was inducted to the University's Ring of Honor.
Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

Now without further or do, let's take a quick look.

1. Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Like most WNBA players, Griner is playing overseas. She is currently playing in the Chinese WCBA league for the Zhejiang Far East team. Based on the Asia-Basket website, Griner is averaging 19.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 blocks, and 1.5 assists per game. Currently, Zhejiang is 6-4 or tied for fourth place in the league.

While these stats certainly look very nice on the surface, we need to keep in mind that she is the only American on her team which may inflate her scoring stats, but let's also add that Griner plays against some other WCBA teams with current WNBA players, in particular low post players, many of whom are considered to be better than her. Shock center Liz Cambage is averaging 32.1 points and 6.9 rebounds a game for the Beijing Great Wall; Sky center Sylvia Fowles is averaging 31.4 points and 13.9 rebounds a game for the Shanghai Octopus; Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike is averaging 24.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Guangdong Dolphins; and Silver Stars center Jayne Appel is averaging 25.3 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Liaoning Hengye.

Though she isn't a true low post player, Lynx forward Maya Moore plays on Shanxi and is averaging 35.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 5 steals, and 1 block per game.

In short, Griner is playing in an overseas league with some of the best low post players in the WNBA, and by having regular matches against these other players, this should be helpful experience for her next summer for the Mercury.

2. Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky

The 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year has decided not to play overseas and has remained in Chicago. According to this article by Doug Feinberg, Delle Donne has hosted youth basketball clinics and has been a brand ambassador for the team for business functions. Here is what Sky owner Michael Alter had to say on it:

The Sky organization is thrilled that Elena chose to stay not only in the country but in Chicago this offseason. This is an important part of growth, especially in building our brand presence in Chicago. Her willingness to be out and about in the corporate and philanthropic communities as well as youth basketball will pay dividends.

Along the way, Delle Donne even got to bump into former Chicago Bulls star and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen so here's a pic from her Instagram page:

Even though she isn't playing overseas, Delle Donne is working on her strength, and also keeping her Lyme Disease under control. She missed a number of games during her college career due to its symptoms. And another benefit for Sky fans, besides getting to see their star player in town during the long offseason is that Delle Donne should be 100% next year for training camp, and not risk injury while playing abroad.

3. Skylar Diggins, Tulsa Shock

Like Delle Donne, Diggins has decided to stay in the United States. She was inducted to Notre Dame's Ring of Honor before a November 16 win vs. Valparaiso. So here's a video below:

In addition, she was named the March of Dimes Sportswoman of the Year for 2013 at a Sports Luncheon held in New York City earlier this month. She also was involved with a number of other business and charity projects for December, including working with GENYOUTH, a program to educate youth to improve their physical activity and nutritional habits and she also was on Regis Philbin's Crowd Goes Wild show.

All that said she is working on her strength as well in both New York City and in South Bend, according to this article.


There are some WNBA fans who do question why Diggins is not playing overseas. Part of it is because she did not make a particularly big impact on the Tulsa Shock in a positive manner on the basketball court right away like some hoped she could, as she averaged 8.5 points per game on 32.8% shooting overall, and 24.4% from three (19-78 attempts). And then her assist to turnover ratio (3.8 to 2.88) per game isn't anything to write home about. For some fans, this could create a perception that Diggins isn't necessarily focused on basketball, but instead is more focused on her personal brand.

While I think that is a fair point, let's also keep in mind that a number of good players in the WNBA historically have stayed or are staying in America during most offseasons. For example, Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson has remained here for a number of years because she is an ESPN broadcaster. Then one of the best point guards in WNBA history, Dawn Staley, was the head coach at Temple while she was still playing in the league. Now, she is the head coach at South Carolina. The lack of playing physically overseas isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if the players maintain strong offseason workouts, this can still improve their games considerably.

As always, this only shows what Griner, Delle Donne, and Diggins are doing generally speaking on a macro level and this isn't an exhaustive laundry list of everything they've done. If there's another link you want to add, please feel free to FanShot, or make a FanPost about it.

So that leaves me one final question: Which player among the Big Three Rookies in the 2013 Draft Class will show the most improvement in 2014? Sound off in the comments below!