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.
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.
|Player||Floor %||Eff FG%||Off. Rtg||Indiv. Rtg.|
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.