If there’s one rookie who had a great July, it was the Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier. Not only did Collier collect Rookie of the Month honors on Aug. 1 in recognition of her efforts, she also threw an exclamation point on her award-worthy performance with an All-Star nod.
Collier was selected for the All-Star Game by WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to replace the injured A’ja Wilson rather than voted into it like her teammates. But that doesn’t mean the honor wasn’t deserved. Collier has been integral to a Lynx team that is missing a lot of last season’s star power. As a result, she is virtually tied for first on the team in minutes per game and she is third in scoring and first in steals. Maya Moore comparisons notwithstanding — and it’s hard not to compare the players considering the timing of Collier’s entrance to the Lynx and how her rookie accomplishments mimic Moore’s — Collier is having an objectively solid season, even if circumstance is dictating her high use.
All that said, the Lynx have yet to play following the All-Star break, so July’s Rookie of the Month won’t be featured in this week’s Rookie Report.
Instead, check out the Dallas Wings duo doing work in their last two games, the Indiana Fever center who’s had no trouble transitioning to the pros and the Chicago Sky wing who might finally be setting the tone for her rookie season after overcoming some early adversity.
Arike Ogunbowale and Megan Gustafson, Dallas Wings
The two Wisconsin-bred superstars have made their state proud in both of the Wings’ games since the All-Star break. Arike Ogunbowale — a clear Rookie of the Year contender and June’s Rookie of the Month — led the team in scoring in both games, with 14 and 22 points; she shot a combined 12-of-24 from the floor. For a player whose season field-goal percentage is still well south of 40 percent, these latest commanding performances are both helpful to her team and encouraging for her own future.
Megan Gustafson, on the other hand, is finally playing like the star everyone knew at Iowa and expected in the WNBA. More accurately, she’s being given the opportunity to find success. In each game since the All-Star break, Gustafson has notched 11 points, 8 rebounds and a block — all either setting or tying career-highs. She made the most of 16 minutes of work in Tuesday’s loss to the Las Vegas Aces and locked in for a career-high 27 minutes in Thursday’s win against the New York Liberty. Gustafson also attempted two 3-pointers in Thursday’s game, an area that’s never really been part of her repertoire but that could improve with development. It’s been a long road for Gustafson to get to this point, but finishing the season with numbers like this will do wonders for her prospects moving forward.
See them play: The Wings welcome the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 8 p.m. ET (NBA TV).
Teaira McCowan, Indiana Fever
It’s rare that a rookie center can nab 14 rebounds in a game and have it be just her third-highest total of the season. But when that rookie is Teaira McCowan, call it a regular night. The fourth-highest rebounder in the WNBA put together another solid effort on Wednesday, grabbing her fifth career double-double in her eighth game with double-digit boards. What McCowan has been able to do with the roughly 20 minutes per game she’s given is nothing short of astounding. She’s effective on both ends of the floor, grabbing offensive and defensive rebounds while delivering about a block-and-a-half per game. If not for her lack of minutes, McCowan would also be in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
See her play: The Fever host the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).
Katie Lou Samuelson, Chicago Sky
While Katie Lou Samuelson has yet to have a truly outstanding performance as was expected of the UConn star, she’s at least taking steps to make it happen. In Tuesday’s game against the Connecticut Sun, Samuelson put up a career-high six points on a made three-pointer and 3-of-4 shooting from the line. She did all that in just eight minutes — by far, her most effective outing yet. Samuelson appears to be balancing easing back into the game following her wrist injury with easing into the WNBA itself. She has played in just six games. But this, at least, is the direction she wants to be going in, and the big scoring games she was known for in college are definitely in her future.
See her play: The Sky visit the Atlanta Dream on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).