As the WNBA season creeps towards the playoffs, the end-of-season award conversation intensifies. Right now, one of the biggest debates is over who will be the 2019 Rookie of the Year.
With numerous names that could be tossed out, I want to focus on two of the top rookies. The college rivals. The ones that everyone is so quick to vigorously defend right now because, let's be honest, this is who it will come down to.
Napheesa Collier: Minnesota Lynx
Napheesa Collier has been arguably one of the most steady players in the league this season, let alone out of the rookies. She shot out of the gate early in the season looking as veteran and poised as anyone else in the league as a starter for Minnesota. Her numbers speak for themselves averaging 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists per game while shooting 45.8-percent on the season.
Collier has notched three double-doubles so far this year for Minnesota, who sit at seventh place in the league with an overall record of 13-13.
Arike Ogunbowale: Dallas Wings
Arike Ogunbowale is not afraid to make some serious noise in the basketball world, and that pattern has only continued with her play in her rookie season, especially within the last few weeks. She is averaging 16.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game while shooting 37-percent from the floor this season.
The Dallas Wings sit at 9-17 on the season for tenth place in the league standings. But this is a whole new team with a whole new look and system in place who's currently hit their stride on a three-game win streak. Can they add a few more wins down the stretch to aid in Ogunbowale's ROY chances? It's very possible.
Let's take a look at how these two have performed in their last six games.
|Last 6 Games||Collier||Ogunbowale|
|Points Per Game||14 points||23 points|
|Shots Per Game||10.5 (63 total)||16.6 shots (100 total)|
|3pt %||36% (5/14)||45% (13/29)|
The truth is, there is a legitimate argument to be made for Rookie of the Year with both of these players. They're two very different types of players who's been asked to accept two different roles for their teams. Comparing numbers can't be viewed as strictly black and white.
Ogunbowale NEEDS to take more shots for the Wings to be successful. Head coach Brian Agler has given her the green light to be an aggressive scoring threat. (And if you don't see the reasoning for that based on the type of player she is, I can't help you there.) Her shooting percentages have increased to 45-percent, which is a phenomenal number for any guard play and to shoot 45-percent from the three-point line is remarkable.
Ogunbowale's turnovers have gone up due to the fact teams are starting to trap her and playing her overly aggressive. I mean let's be real, the ball is in her hands the bulk of the game. She is playing at as high of a level as any player in the league right now
Collier has had a phenomenal year across the board since the season began. The consistency is undeniable, and the versatility of her play can't always be measured on a stat sheet in terms of the ways she impacts the game on both ends of the floor. She hasn't looked like a rookie this year … at all. She is the type of player every team needs, but few actually have.
Collier is shooting the ball incredibly well as her field goal percentages have increased. Other notables for Collier are her rebounding numbers, which have increased to 7.5 per game in the last six contests.
As the debate continues, we should know by now this will come down to the wire. These are two phenomenal players who are changing the WNBA with presence alone. If you're a fan of one, no need to bash and hate the other. Let's agree that what they're doing is impressive and enjoy the ride these final few weeks.