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Cambage vs. Delle Donne is the Godzilla vs. Mothra of the WNBA

Liz Cambage is one of the most intimidating offensive players in professional basketball. Listed at 6’8, she’s tied for the tallest active player in the WNBA, towering three to four inches over most other centers in the league. She uses this height, along with her strength, agility, and fine finishing finesse, to devastate other teams inside. When Liz Cambage is feasting in the paint, she looks like Godzilla, crushing the smaller players beneath her, taking out radio towers and skyscrapers on the way to the rim. Cambage is terrifying, and she knows it. Look how she came dressed to Sunday’s game against the Chicago Sky–a match where she proceeded to record 23 points and grabbed 17 rebounds on the path to destroying Chicago’s playoff chances. While adjusting to a new system in Las Vegas has meant a drop off in Cambage’s scoring averages, the league still knows that this is the same Liz Cambage who dropped a league record 53 points in a single game last season. After a dominant debut, Liz Cambage looks ready to resume her reign of destruction in the 2019 playoffs; turning her sights toward our nation’s capital and the Washington Mystics.

​Flying in from the sky while breathing fire comes Elena Delle Donne, the Mystics’ very own kaiju. While not as physically imposing as Cambage at 6’5, Delle Donne has her own ways of terrorizing opposing defenses. I’ve previously written about the Washington Mystics forward’s historic offensive season, but it bears repeating: Elena Delle Donne shot 51.5% from the field, 43% from three, and an outlandish 97.4% from the free throw line. Delle Donne is the first WNBA player to join the elusive 50/40/90 club. None of the eight other players to reach those marks even come close to Delle Donne’s shooting percentage from the free throw line (she only missed three free throws the whole year!!!). The terror of guarding Elena Delle Donne comes from knowing that she has an endless array of ways to hurt you. You can’t foul her, she will hit the free throws. You can’t give her space, because she will drain the shot or drive to the hoop for an easy lay-up. There’s this feeling of omnipotence from Delle Donne when she plays offense; there is nothing she cannot will into happening. Not to mention, she’s got a scary mask of her own.

​While Liz Cambage can shoot the three, she’s much more effective at close range and doesn’t seem as comfortable shooting the three as Delle Donne. While Delle Donne took 28.3% of her shots from deep this season, Cambage only attempt 3.1% of such shots. While Cambage has a clear advantage over Delle Donne in height, EDD is remarkably fast for her size, something she’s taken advantage of frequently in their match-ups this season. This points to a wider theme in comparing these two juggernauts: Elena Delle Donne simply plays a more modern form of basketball; she’s faster, more efficient, and more capable of spacing the floor. 

​Delle Donne has had the advantage over Cambage of playing for the same team for several seasons. This season, Mystics head coach Mike Thibault has crafted one of the most efficient offensive systems in professional basketball history, perfectly fitting the offensive skill set of the likely MVP. Cambage, however, was only just traded to the Las Vegas Aces days before the start of the WNBA season. Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer is still working out an offensive system which best utilizes both Cambage and young superstar A’ja Wilson. Last time we saw Cambage in a system that was built around her exclusively, on the Dallas Wings, she averaged 23 points per game on 58.9% shooting from the field.

While there’s no doubt that Delle Donne has outperformed Cambage this season, it would be foolish to overlook how devastating Cambage can be on offense when she’s at her best. These are two of the most fierce, competitive, and talented offensive players not only in the WNBA, but in professional basketball. Either of them are liable to drop 30 points on a given night, and both of them give opposing defenses nightmares the night before a game. I can easily envision Elena Delle Donne and Liz Cambage towering over Washington D.C., hurling buildings at each other and shooting lasers out of their eyes in their path to victory. And in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs, we’ll get to watch just that.

Season Stats Head-to-Head: Elena Delle Donne vs. Liz Cambage

 Elena Delle Donne (2019, WAS)Liz Cambage (2019, LVA)Liz Cambage (2018, DAL)
PPG19.515.923.0
RPG8.28.29.7
BPG1.31.61.7
FG%51.5%50.4%58.9%
3P%43.0%16.7%32.4%
FT%97.4%74.8%73.8%
TS%63.3%55.8%64.3%
Off Rtg130105121
Def Rtg9893104

All stats taken from Basketball-Reference, ESPN, or stats.wnba.com, unless otherwise noted. For definitions of advanced stats, check out Basketball-Reference’s glossary.

Dani Bar-Lavi is a comedian, writer, and guest contributor to SportsAreFromVenus. You can find them on Twitter @dblfluidity.

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