This 2013 WNBA season certainly has hype with it, in regards to the "Big Three Rookies" of Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, and Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock.
Griner in particular has received the most hype, at least in part due to her dunking ability. While she statistically has been averaging 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds a game, and 2.9 blocks a game, not bad stats by any means, but she has missed some games due to injury, and hasn't been a "game changing" player, at least to the point where the Mercury would be a top team in the Western Conference and a presumptive favorite by many to win the Finals.
Skylar Diggins has had a number of growing pains herself, and for part of the midseason wasn't even starting, though this coincided with a minor injury she had. Then again, she is a point guard, a position which often has a high learning curve before players at that position hit their stride. But then we also have to consider that a significant amount of her hype comes from her social media presence, and her looks. Still, she has shown a good number of moments where she can be an All-Star presence for the Tulsa Shock, which is a team that needs a good player with national exposure, which Diggins provides.
Of the "Big Three Rookies", Delle Donne has definitely lived to the hype. She is leading in scoring among all rookies with 18,3 points a game, along with 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.7 assists per game and is a major reason why the Sky is the #1 team in the Eastern Conference and also will make its first playoff berth in franchise history. But all of that said, judging whether Griner, Delle Donne, or Diggins will live up to the hype won't be determined by just their rookie seasons. It will be determined based on what they do over their careers over the next several seasons.
There are some other players who came into this league with a lot of hype. Candace Parker was the star many thought would change the WNBA for the better back in 2008. She certainly made an impact her rookie year to say the least, as she won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season for the Los Angeles Sparks. However, due to having a child soon after that season along with injuries, she didn't really hit her 100% level of play until last season. So I'll say that Parker has lived up to expectations on the basketball end, since she's one hell of a player, but in terms of marketing, etc., she hasn't.
Also in 2004, Diana Taurasi came into the Phoenix Mercury with a lot of hype, though I don't think she came into the league expecting to get the "marketing buzz" to the same extent that Parker and Diggins had before they entered the league. While Taurasi has definitely lived to the hype over the long haul as a scorer and even as a distributor which we're getting to see more of this season especially, it's not like she just magically changed the Mercury's fortunes in the standings overnight though the Mercury was roughly a .500 team immediately after she was drafted. The Mercury didn't get into the playoffs until 2007, her fourth year in the league when Phoenix won the championship. Phoenix also drafted another top prospect, Cappie Pondexter, in 2006 who was also the Finals MVP in 2007.
So that's the tip of the iceberg with hyped players and whether they lived to expectations. For all of you guys, which players were the most hyped players heading into your favorite team? What was the hype about? And did they answer the bell to those lofty expectations, both on the court, and off of it? Discuss in the comments below.
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