Last season, UConn experienced its best women’s basketball duo in Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. After four years of exceeding expectations as Huskies, the two were then selected in the first round of the 2019 WNBA Draft — Samuelson went to Chicago and Collier cooled down in Minnesota.
Soon after the draft, Samuelson and Collier inked deals with PUMA and Nike, respectively. With Collier’s likability factor almost unavoidable, Samuelson has it made in marketability with the addition of being represented by one of the most well-respected WNBA player agents out there, Wasserman’s Lindsay Kagawa Colas.
Each of them, of course, will have different journeys in Cathy Engelbert’s league. The Lynx are trying to tie loose ends, especially with the recent loss of Seimone Augustus, which may yield more immediate growth for Collier. The Sky, on the other hand, have long-term insurance with veterans Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot, giving Lou a chance to soak in their expertise.
Of Samuelson and Collier — joined since 2015 — who’ll have the better rookie season? Every week or so, Swish Appeal will run side-by-side comparisons of the two and track them through the 2019 WNBA regular season.
Week of Friday, May 24 - Sunday, June 1
Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx
Two-game totals: 59 minutes played, 36 points, 70-percent field-goal shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks
Opponent(s) faced this week: Chicago Sky (Saturday, May 25), Seattle Storm (Wednesday, May 29)
Grade for the week: A
Grade breakdown: Rookie of the week Napheesa Collier made a statement in her young WNBA career. Much like her time at UConn, her endurance kept her on court for almost a full game. Her placement on offense, especially when she crossed over ex-teammate Samuelson, and defense were nothing but sublime. Against the Storm, Collier did do her signature layup in tight man coverage, but her ball handling was a little shaky. Nonetheless, Collier’s first week in the WNBA was one to remember.
Next week’s schedule: Dallas Wings (Saturday, June 1), Seattle Storm (Tuesday, June 4), Phoenix Mercury (Thursday, June 6), Los Angeles Sparks (Saturday, June 8)
Katie Lou Samuelson, Chicago Sky
One-game totals: 17 minutes played, 4 points, 2 assists
Opponent(s) faced this week: Minnesota Lynx (Friday, May 25)
Grade for the week: B-
Grade breakdown: Granted, Samuelson may not get the playing time that’s deserved, but with an already-loaded roster, the Sky most definitely need No. 33 as a reinforcement. After all, 17 minutes is a fair stretch of time to get climatized. She even recorded her first bucket in the game’s opening minutes. In her first WNBA game, Lou struggled slightly on defense and she seemed to be only a pawn in a Quigley-Vandersloot-steered offense.
Next week’s schedule: Seattle Storm (Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 9), Washington Mystics (Wednesday, June 5)