Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Best Rookies Ever?

After the 2006 Rookie of the Year race and the simply phoenomal performance by the top two candidates, this year has been rather ho hum. Sure Lindsey Harding had a chance to nab the Lynx its third ROY and the second in a row, but frankly, she just wasn't that exciting. I know Marta Fernandez was playing fine basketball down in LA, but the woman is 25 years old, with a bevy of international experience under her belt. At least when Lauren Jackson was competing for the award with international experience under her belt she was younger than all the other rookies in contention.

All this pontification led me to think about how good those two rookie women were last year, and to wonder if they might have been the best ever. I learned quite a few things in running the numbers, including a couple of surprises. Unfortunately I was unable to run the numbers for the inaugural winner of the ROY, Tracy Reid who won while playing with the Charlotte Sting. When the franchise folded this year the league pulled all of the team statistics prior to 2006 off the web.

NOTE: THANKS TO pd_swanson THE DATA BELOW HAS BEEN UPDATED TO INCLUDE TRACY REID'S 1998 ROOKIE DATA.

Surprise Number 1

Cappie Pondexter was ROBBED!

No offense meant to Seimone Augustus, she is the second best player to ever be awarded the Rookie of the Year honor, she just wasn't the best rookie last season, not even close.
AugustusPondexter
Floor %50%53%
Eff FG%48%49%
Off. Rtg.107.27117.24
Indiv. Rating93.14100.88

She scored more points (120 more), had more rebounds (21 more) and had more blocks (14 more) than Cappie, but Cappie led in assists (48 more), steals (16 more) and had less turnovers (26 less). To top it off, Augustus was the number one option for the Lynx, but Cappie shared the spotlight with scoring leader Taurasi and Penny Taylor.

Surpise Number 2

The only other tightly contested race I could remember was the 2001 race between Jackie Stiles and Lauren Jackson. Stiles won and my numbers back up that decision. I had always believed that LJ was robbed, but Stiles led Lauren in eFG%, offensive rating and individual rating. In fact, LJ isn't even the best Storm player to ever be in the ROY race. Betty Lennox was a better overall rookie in 2000 than LJ was in 2001. Of course, LJ won the league MVP in 2003 when most players her age would have been juniors in college, but that is a different argument entirely.

So Who Were The Best Rookies Ever?

Tamika Catchings was the best all around rookie when she won the award in 2002. She was actually drafted in 2001, but an injury held her out for the full 2001 season and she dominated the 2002 race.

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%Off. RtgIndiv. Rtg.
Tamika Catchings51%51%116.99101.23
Cappie Pondexter53%49%117.24100.88
Seimone Augustus50%48%107.2793.14
Temeka Johnson47%48%100.1291.40
Diana Taurasi46%48%103.0091.22
Jackie Stiles45%47%101.6689.36
Betty Lennox45%49%99.7587.24
Tracy Reid51%49%100.6485.69
Lauren Jackson46%42%100.8582.06
Chamique Holdsclaw46%44%94.8681.38
Cheryl Ford49%47%97.8280.36

From an individual perspective, Cheryl Ford is by far the best rebounder the league has ever seen, and she was the best rebounding rookie ever as well. Lauren Jackson is the best shot blocker of the rookies while no one comes close to Tamika Catchings when it comes to steals. Temeka Johnson was the best passer and Seimone Augustus was far and away the best scorer of the bunch. The recent retiree, Chamique Holdsclaw holds the dubious honor of the most turnovers among ROY winners.

One interesting point, is that with the exception of Tamika Catchings, a truly rare all around player, the ROY's have been getting steadily better over the years. This year, like 2003, is likely to show a drop due to the shocking leap forward by players in the year that preceded it. Only time will tell if the climb continues in future years.

1 comment:

p_d_swanson said...

1998 Charlotte Sting

Player G GS Min FG FGA 3P 3PA FT FTA OR DR TOT AST PF STL TO BLK PTS
Boucher, Kelly 9 0 52 3 15 1 6 3 4 2 11 13 2 3 1 3 0 10
Bullett, Vicky 30 30 947 162 367 4 26 71 86 62 132 194 46 88 66 64 46 399
Chase, Sonia 23 0 166 14 28 0 0 6 6 5 9 14 13 16 5 13 0 34
Congreaves, Andrea 24 10 372 35 81 15 51 19 21 18 53 71 36 37 11 23 5 104
Johns Kimbrough, Pollyanna 24 0 180 22 45 0 0 18 28 14 23 37 6 9 3 9 2 62
Manning, Sharon 30 6 575 59 134 0 2 44 66 60 106 166 30 62 32 43 7 162
Mapp, Rhonda 21 14 456 83 164 1 10 45 60 35 54 89 33 60 13 39 8 212
Paschal, Tia 20 0 110 11 37 1 4 4 6 4 11 15 9 12 8 11 0 27
Reid, Tracy 30 30 966 151 310 0 2 111 181 60 97 157 46 59 40 71 12 413
Smith, Christy 24 18 448 27 75 18 57 17 20 3 31 34 71 34 10 48 0 89
Stinson, Andrea 30 30 1046 173 414 29 103 75 100 29 109 138 134 72 54 77 15 450
Suber, Tora 30 12 682 58 185 36 116 29 46 12 41 53 86 55 30 44 1 181
Charlotte 30 798 1855 105 377 442 624 304 677 981 512 507 273 457 96 2143
Opponents 30 780 1878 113 381 378 529 305 663 968 470 601 242 501 108 2051