12 WNBA Players to Watch in 2018
It’s a fantastic time for the WNBA. A new season is upon us and it seems like there’s more media coverage than ever before. We’ve already had a Sunday stacked with games, including the first buzzer-beating game-winner of the year. If you’re new to the WNBA or just looking for some exciting players to follow this season, here are 12 players to watch (one for each team).
Kelsey Mitchell – Indiana Fever
A month ago, Kelsey Mitchell was an Ohio State Buckeye, one who became the NCAA’s second leading scorer of all-time. Now, she’s one state over in Indiana, making her prolific scoring presence known in the pros. She’s fast, loves to push the ball in transition, and can shoot from deep. Guaranteed, she’ll be one of your favorite players to watch before the season’s over.
Kelsey Plum – Las Vegas Aces
Another professional sports franchise has made it to Las Vegas and, with it, comes the highest-scoring player in NCAA Division I history. She made her WNBA debut for the San Antonio Stars – now the Las Vegas Aces – a year ago, averaging 8.5 points in 22 minutes per game. After finishing her championship season overseas this week, she’s on her way back to the states, looking to lead this franchise.
Brittney Sykes – Atlanta Dream
2 Chainz has to be happy that this second-year player is representing Atlanta’s WNBA franchise. A year ago, Sykes was selected with the 7th overall pick in the draft. She had a fantastic rookie campaign where she averaged 13.9 points per game and was selected to the All-Rookie team.
Diamond DeShields – Chicago Sky
After spending a year playing pro ball in Turkey, DeShields was selected 3rd overall by the Sky in this year’s draft. Her pro experience gives her a definite advantage over the rest of the rookie class and she’s already shown her ability and high basketball IQ in her first couple of games. Her ball-handling and ability to drive and score at the rim will make her a force on the court. She’s already averaging 12.5 points per game and has the Sky sitting at 2-0.
Chiney Ogwumike – Connecticut Sun
2014’s Rookie of the Year Chiney Ogwumike is a joy to watch. After missing the entire 2017 WNBA season due to an Achilles injury, she’s back for the Sun and ready to build on her already brilliant professional career. The power forward is basically a walking double-double, averaging 14 points and nearly 8 rebounds for her career.
Kia Nurse – New York Liberty
Nurse didn’t miss a lot of shots in college. She shot 48.4% from the field for her career, including an amazing 52% during the 2017-18 season. She’s a great floor general, one that can drive and dish, but can also shoot from the perimeter. How she fell to the 10th pick this year, I’ll never understand.
Elena Delle Donne – Washington Mystics
The 28-year-old is the most established WNBA player on our list, and probably the most widely recognized. Delle Donne does it all. She can shoot from outside, drive to the bucket, and pull down rebounds. Her WNBA career has been absurd thus far, as she’s averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds over her first five seasons. Oh, and she doesn’t miss from the charity stripe. Her career free throw percentage sits at 94.
Chelsea Gray – Los Angeles Sparks
She hit a game-winner in the season opener against the rival Minnesota Lynx, which was the absolute perfect way to start a WNBA season. 2017 was her breakout season, as she averaged 14.7 points on 50% shooting, including 48% from beyond the arc.
Maya Moore – Minnesota Lynx
Last year, she won her FOURTH championship ring with the Minnesota Lynx in just her seventh WNBA season. This year, she’s looking to lead her team to another one, breaking the trend of winning the title every other year. Her career 18.4 points lead the Lynx and she’s also contributes on the boards (6.1 per game) and with her solid passing (3.2 assists).
Brittney Griner – Phoenix Mercury
In her fifth WNBA season, Griner averaged a career-best 21.9 points per game which led to her first scoring title. In 2017, she also was the league leader in blocks for the fifth time and was an All-Star for the fourth time. Her presence in the paint on both offense and defense is unmatched. Look for her to demolish opponents on both ends all season.
Jordin Canada – Seattle Storm
Despite her last name, this rookie and UCLA grad is actually from Los Angeles. In her four collegiate seasons, Canada became the first woman in PAC-12 history to log 1,800 points and 700 assists. She and Seattle Supersonics legend Gary Payton are the only two players (male or female) to accomplish this. Her game is tailor-made for the pros and she’s already shown her ability to run the point for the Storm.
Elizabeth Cambage – Dallas Wings
If you know the Wings, you probably expected me to highlight superstar Skylar Diggins-Smith. While she’s absolutely brilliant on the court, it’s Australian center Elizabeth Cambage who looks like an early candidate for WNBA MVP. In her first two games with the Wings, she’s averaging 19.5 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. She went toe-to-toe with Brittney Griner in the season opener and held her to 13 points. Look for Cambage’s name in the press all season long.
While we highlighted just one player from each team, there are so many fantastic women to watch during the 2018 season. The future of the WNBA is bright. Make sure you keep your eyes on it.
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(Cropped image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr.)