Coming into the 2020 WNBA season, all of the rookie hype was surrounded by No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu and her college teammate and No. 2 overall pick Satou Sabally. But, what about No. 4 overall pick Chennedy Carter? Where is her hype?
Not only has the Atlanta Dream point guard proven that she deserves to be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year, but she may even win the dang thing.
Through her first four career games, Carter is averaging 15.3 points, 4 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game. She is making 39.6% of her field goals and 22.2% of her three-pointers. She has sunk 85% of her free throws.
Carter is tied with the Dallas Wing’s Ty Harris for the rookie assist leader. Carter leads all rookies in points scored and field goals made. Carter is even tied for fifth among rookies in rebounds.
Considering that Sabrina Ionescu is out for potentially most or all of the season with an ankle sprain (a crushing blow for Sabrina and basketball fans everywhere), Carter becomes a serious option going forward for rookie of the year. For the rest of the season, Carter will be on a one-on-one race with Satou Sabally for the award.
After Saturday’s loss to the Indiana Fever, head coach Nicki Collen told Sports Are From Venus about what she is most excited about Carter’s game.
“I just think she’s explosive off the bounce. She can create her own shots. She can create for her teammates. If you look at some of her statistics, she has started games well and finished games well. She’s fearless in the fourth quarter. We’ve had some games where she’s had to make plays down the stretch, so she’s not afraid of the big moments or the big shots, and she has shown that she’ll go make those.”
Carter was limited to only 21 minutes against the Fever after getting into foul trouble. Coach Collen was concerned about that aspect of her game.
“She’s got to stop fouling. That seems to be a trend for her. She has gotten herself in foul trouble in three of our four games. She is fouling jump shooters, probably over aggressive against Sabrina [Ionescu] the other night, got herself in foul trouble early. I would say that’s, right now through four games, what I’m the most concerned with because that takes her off of the floor.”
Through four games, Carter has averaged 25 minutes on the court. If Carter didn’t consistently find herself in foul trouble, she would average at least 30 minutes a game. Carter will put herself in a better position to win rookie of the year if she can stay out of foul trouble and spend more time on the floor.
Carter has shown through the first week of the WNBA season that she is a serious candidate for rookie of the year. With Ionescu out of the picture, Satou Sabally is Carter’s only competition for the award. Sabally has played excellent, averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, so Carter will have her work cut out for her.
It will be fascinating all season long watching Carter and Sabally battle it out for the WNBA’s best rookie. Even though Sabally doesn’t care about the award, it’ll still be fun for fans to watch both of their progress this season and debate which player is most deserving.
Even if Carter doesn’t win Rookie of the Year, she has an incredibly bright future in the WNBA. Coach Collen puts it well.
“Her growth is going to come as she learns the game, as she learns who everybody is in this league and what they do well, [and] how she can continue to get better on both sides of the ball. She’s a great kid, wants to be great, is a willing learner, asks questions. I’m excited. I think she can be a star. There is no doubt. Long term, she can be a star in this league.”
8/7/20 update- Carter scored 35 points in her sixth career game, making her the youngest player in WNBA history to score 30+ points in a game. Carter is averaging 20.3 points and 4.5 assists.
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(photo credit: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)