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PHOTOS: From Tina Charles in 2010 to Napheesa Collier in 2019, the WNBA’s Rookies of the Decade

As the 2010s come to a close, it’s time to reflect on the WNBA’s Rookies of the Year — the twenty-something, college-educated women who dazzled in their NCAA days so thoroughly that fans couldn’t wait until they graced the courts of the WNBA with their promise.

Las Vegas Aces v New York Liberty
Former Rookies of the Year A’ja Wilson (left) and Tina Charles battle for position.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

With an excess of talent from the collegiate and international ranks spilling into the WNBA every year, coveted awards like Rookie of the Year are reserved for the truly special. Rookies of the Year in the WNBA not only live up to the hype of their college days, but offer promise for the future. They elevate the level of play, nudge the bar slightly higher and force everyone else to catch up. As the 2010s wind to a close, Swish Appeal reflects on the players who won the Rookie of the Year award this decade.


Tina Charles — 2010

Rookie season averages

15.5 points (48.7 percent field goal, 76.3 percent free throw), 11.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.5 assists

The Connecticut Sun’s Tina Charles Named 2010 WNBA Rookie Of The Year
Tina Charles (left) is presented with the WNBA Rookie of the Year award by former league president Donna Orender on Aug. 31, 2010.
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Winning the Rookie of the Year award was just the beginning for Tina Charles. Olympic gold medals (2012, 2016) and a league MVP award (2012) would follow. After four seasons with the Connecticut Sun, Charles signed with the New York Liberty and, after just six seasons, is the franchise’s leading scorer and rebounder.


Maya Moore — 2011

Rookie season averages

13.2 points (43.9 percent field goal, 36.9 percent 3-point, 78.8 percent free throw), 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals

WNBA Coach, Rookie Awards Go To Reeve and Moore of Lynx
Maya Moore (left) is presented with the WNBA Rookie of the Year award by former league president Laurel Richie on Sept. 16, 2011.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Winning the Rookie of the Year award was just the appetizer for Maya Moore’s inaugural season. She also won her first WNBA championship in 2011, and proceeded to win three more titles by 2017. Add to her pile an MVP award (2014), a Finals MVP award (2013) and two Olympic gold medals (2012, 2016) and you’d still just be scratching the surface on Moore’s accomplishments.


Nneka Ogwumike — 2012

Rookie season averages

14 points (53.5 percent field goal, 14.3 percent 3-point, 73.4 percent free throw), 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.2 assists

Minnesota Lynx v Los Angeles Sparks - Game Two
Nneka Ogwumike (right) poses with her WNBA Rookie of the Year award alongside Carol Ross, winner of the Coach of the Year award, on Oct. 7, 2012.
Photo by Jon SooHoo/NBAE via Getty Images

Nneka Ogwumike went on to win the league MVP award in 2016 as well as her first WNBA championship. That year, she was elected to the role of WNBPA president and reelected in 2019, suggesting her leadership off the court — specifically, in CBA negotiations — is as strong as it is on it.


Elena Delle Donne — 2013

Rookie season averages

18.1 points (42.6 percent field goal, 43.8 percent 3-point, 92.9 free throw), 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 blocks

2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award presentation
Elena Delle Donne (right) gives former league president Laurel Richie a hug during presentation of her WNBA Rookie of the Year award on Sept. 30, 2013.
Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Elena Delle Donne helped her Chicago Sky team to the WNBA Finals in 2014. The following season, she was named league MVP. A move to the Washington Mystics in 2017 seemed to give Delle Donne new life. In a repeat Finals appearance in 2019, she won her first championship — also a first for the Mystics franchise. Delle Donne also won her second league MVP in 2019 on the heels of becoming the first WNBA player to tally a 50/40/90 season.


Chiney Ogwumike — 2014

Rookie season averages

15.5 points (53.6 field goal, 69.3 free throw), 8.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks

Chiney Ogwumike 2014 WNBA Rookie Of The Year
Chiney Ogwumike (right) is presented with the WNBA Rookie of the Year award by former league president Laurel Richie on Aug. 28, 2014.
Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Chiney Ogwumike’s potential was interrupted by injuries that caused her to miss the 2015 and 2017 WNBA seasons. She returned in 2018 as dominant as ever, helping the Connecticut Sun to make it to the playoffs. That season, she flashed her multitasking abilities — competing for the Sun and working full-time as a broadcaster/analyst for ESPN. She signed with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2019 where she played off the bench.


Jewell Loyd — 2015

Rookie season averages

10.7 points (41.1 percent field goal, 20.8 percent 3-point, 90.4 percent free throw), 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists

Seattle Storm Media Day 2015
Jewell Loyd was named WNBA Rookie of the Year on Sept. 24, 2015. Photos of her presentation ceremony could not be found, but here she is during her very first media day.
Photo by Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

Jewell Loyd dazzled at Notre Dame with smooth skills reminiscent of Kobe Bryant’s, just as she’d intended. Although he has mentored her and gifted her with the “Gold Mamba” moniker, Loyd hasn’t dominated games as she did in college because of the depth of talent on her team’s roster. Still, she has a championship to her credit (2018) and remains a steady contributor for the Seattle Storm.


Breanna Stewart — 2016

Rookie season averages

18.3 points (45.7 percent field goal, 33.8 percent 3-point, 83.3 percent free throw), 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals

Seattle Storm Media Day 2016
Breanna Stewart was named WNBA Rookie of the Year on Sept. 29, 2016. Photos of her trophy presentation could not be found, but here she is during her very first media day.
Photo by Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

It didn’t take Breanna Stewart long to move from Rookie of the Year to champion, league MVP and Finals MVP. She won all of those honors in 2018. Along the way, she won an Olympic gold medal (2016). Stewart missed the 2019 WNBA season due to injury.


Allisha Gray — 2017

Rookie season averages

13 points (38.1 percent field goal, 29.9 percent 3-point, 80.3 percent free throw), 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks

Inspiring Women Luncheon
Allisha Gray (right) is presented with the WNBA Rookie of the Year award by former league president Lisa Borders on Sept. 19, 2017 during the Inspiring Women Luncheon at Cipriani in New York City.
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Fresh off winning the NCAA Tournament championship game with the South Carolina Gamecocks, Allisha Gray declared for the WNBA Draft after her junior year and immediately put the league on notice. But her production has dropped since her breakout rookie season, due in part to roster and coaching shakeups with her Dallas Wings.


A’ja Wilson — 2018

Rookie season averages

20.7 points (46.2 percent field goal, 77.4 percent free throw), 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 blocks

2018 USA Women’s National Team Exhibition Game - USA v Japan
A’ja Wilson (left) is presented with the WNBA Rookie of the Year award by former league president Lisa Borders on Sept. 10, 2018 during halftime of a Team USA exhibition game.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

A’ja Wilson came into the league and immediately exceeded the lofty expectations heaped onto her. She was named an All-Star in her rookie season and an All-Star captain the next. She missed the playoffs by one win in 2018 and made it through a five-game battle in the semifinals the next. It seems only a matter of time before Wilson adds other hardware to her collection.


Napheesa Collier — 2019

Rookie season averages

13.1 points (49 percent field goal, 36.1 percent 3-point, 79.2 free throw), 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals

the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year is the Lynx’s Napheesa Collier
Napheesa Collier (right) is presented with the WNBA Rookie of the Year award by commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Sept. 16, 2019.
Photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Napheesa Collier edged out Arike Ogunbowale for the Rookie of the Year honor because her efficiency trumped the higher-scoring, but less efficient rookie season of her rival. Collier’s production helped the Minnesota Lynx to the playoffs with a young, retooled lineup while Ogunbowale’s stuffed her scoring stats but did not result in wins. The future should be bright for both.


Also in this series:

PHOTOS: The WNBA’s Sixth Women of the 2010s

PHOTOS: The WNBA’s Defensive Players of the Decade