Looking back on any given season as a fan, it’s natural to focus on the broader aspects of the year: how many wins, how many losses, who was new, who was missing, how the coach did, and so on. These are the things that fans following the same team year-to-year will care about, more than, say, individual player performances from individual games.
But from a rookie standpoint, individual standout games mean a lot. If you’re a player like Shey Peddy whose next seven-day contract isn’t guaranteed, your next basket could be your last WNBA basket ever. If you’re already an established star like Jackie Young or Teaira McCowan, these games mean collecting accolades for yourself, even if the rest of your team outperforms you on the stat sheet or your team loses. If you’re still working toward the output that perhaps you and your fans expected like Katie Lou Samuelson, a big game personally is huge toward developing confidence.
This week’s four rookies each had a standout game this week, and while they might not have directly benefited their team’s overall performance or been recognized as the game’s most impactful player, they’re worth celebrating nonetheless.
Shey Peddy, Washington Mystics
Without question, Shey Peddy scored the most notable three-pointer of the day against the Indiana Fever on Sunday, Aug. 18. With 1:21 left in the game, Peddy sank the one shot she took: a three-pointer that elevated the Mystics’ total made shots from beyond the arc to 18, a new WNBA record.
That three-pointer — the only scoring in her seven minutes of play — tied her career-high, which also came courtesy of a made three-pointer back on June 20. She’s made two of four shots from that distance in her career. The only other two times Peddy has scored came from two made free throws in each game, where she’s shooting 100 percent. Talk about all-around efficiency — and good timing, in this case.
Plus, guess what? Peddy signed another seven-day contract on Aug. 20, during which the Mystics play two games. More threes, please!
See her play: The Mystics take on the Chicago Sky on Friday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).
Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces
You can frame Jackie Young’s Aug. 20 performance against the Phoenix Mercury as the triple-double that wasn’t — she was two points shy of the feat. Or you can look at it for what it was: Young became the ninth WNBA player to pick up a double-double in assists and rebounds, as well as the first-ever rookie.
While her forays into double-digits in scoring have been few, as she’s scored zero points almost as many times as she’s hit 10 or more points, this was a statement game for Young in the other two areas. It was her first time reaching 10 rebounds, and just her second time hitting 10 assists, as 2019’s No. 1 overall pick continues to prove her worth outside of scoring.
See her play: The Aces face the Connecticut Sun on Friday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBA TV).
Teaira McCowan, Indiana Fever
Teaira McCowan tied her career-high in scoring with 14 points on Aug. 18. On Tuesday, Aug. 20, though, she decided she wasn’t satisfied with that number anymore and put up 24 points instead.
McCowan has already established herself as an elite rebounder: She’s the best among the rookies by far, but also ranks tied for second in the league for rebounds in a single game and is tied for sixth in average rebounds per game. She’s no slouch on the scoring end, having reached double figures in scoring in 12 games, but breaking 14 seemed elusive — she’d hit that total four times before her 24-point Tuesday.
The Fever came up short on Tuesday, but McCowan’s hot shooting (53.8 percent from the floor, 10-of-14 from the line) at least kept Indiana in a tight game.
See her play: The Fever play the Los Angeles Sparks tonight, Aug. 22, at 10:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network).
Katie Lou Samuelson, Chicago Sky
Like McCowan, Katie Lou Samuelson also set a big career-high during a loss. But for Samuelson, it also ended up being her most efficient outing of the season.
In the Sky’s Aug. 18 loss to the Las Vegas Aces, Samuelson scored 10 points in 14 minutes in the most her way possible: two 3-pointers and four made free throws. All five shots she attempted were three-pointers, another career-best.
As discussed in a previous Rookie Report, it’s this kind of incremental success that Samuelson is thriving on this season, especially since a wrist injury kept her out of action for over a month in June and July. Although she only had two points in her last outing on Aug. 20, it was her fourth straight game where she scored. Finishing her rookie season on this kind of note would give her great confidence moving forward.
See her play: The Sky host the Washington Mystics on Friday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).